World’s biggest solar thermal plant for Port Augusta

A 150MW solar thermal power plant has been secured for Port Augusta.

South Australia Premier Jay Weatherill announced the $650 million Aurora Solar Energy Project on Monday.

Construction of the facility will begin in 2018 and is expected to be complete by 2020.

Mr Weatherill said the project was the “biggest of its kind in the world” and would supply 100 per cent of the state government’s power needs.

“We are supporting this nation-leading renewable energy project because it will deliver more competition into our energy market and put downward pressure on power prices for households and businesses,” the Premier said.

“The Port Augusta story is a stark example of the transition of the South Australian economy, with the closure of a dirty coal-fired power station, and now the commissioning of this world leading renewable energy project.”

SolarReserve has been awarded the contract to build the plant.

The offer from SolarReserve was the lowest-cost option of the shortlisted bids with the government paying no more than $78/MWh.

“SolarReserve’s energy storage technology is an excellent fit for the South Australian electricity system,” SolarReserve CEO Kevin Smith said.

“Aurora will provide much needed capacity and firm energy delivery into the South Australian market to reduce price volatility.”

Aurora will produce synchronous renewable energy that can be dispatched into the grid when needed – even when the sun isn’t shining.

Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis said coupled with the SA’s grid-scale battery, the facility “firmly entrenches South Australia as a world leader in the storage of renewable energy”.

“This facility, in addition to our state-owned power plant and the world’s largest lithium-ion battery, will help to make our energy grid more secure,” he said.

“By using our purchasing power to underwrite the entry of a new player into the market, we can increase competition and put downward pressure on power prices for South Australians.”

A key part of the SA Government’s $550 billion energy plan, the plant will create 650 local jobs during construction and 50 ongoing positions.