Port Augusta Solar Thermal to boost competition and create jobs

17 August 2017

SA Government: SolarReserve has been awarded the contract to supply all of the Government’s power needs, with the project set to boost market competition and put downward pressure on power prices.

A key part of the State Government’s Energy Plan, the 150MW solar thermal power plant at Port Augusta, called Aurora, will be the biggest of its kind in the world and create 650 local jobs during construction and 50 ongoing positions.

Construction of the $650 million facility will begin in 2018 and is estimated to be completed in 2020.
The offer from SolarReserve was the lowest-cost option of the shortlisted bids with the Government paying no more than $78/MWh.

Aurora will produce synchronous renewable energy that can be dispatched into the grid when needed - even when the sun isn’t shining. This will have the added benefits of improving grid security and stability, and allowing for greater levels of renewables to be integrated into the system.

Background

In September 2016 the State Government launched a tender process to procure 75 per cent of its long-term power supply in order to attract a new competitor into the electricity market, increasing competition and putting downward pressure on power prices.

The launch of the tender followed the announcement in July that the State Government would procure 25 per cent of its electricity load from dispatchable renewable energy providers in order to drive innovation in storage and other technologies.

As a large, dispatchable renewable energy generator, SolarReserve provides a single solution that delivers on the goals of both those initiatives.

Under normal operating conditions the plant will have a net capacity of about 135MW, with the ability to increase that output in favourable conditions, such as in the evening.

The Government has entered into a Generation Project Agreement (GPA) with Solar Reserve for the Aurora Solar Energy Project to supply the State’s current load for a period of 20 years.

The GPA contract has been structured to ensure the State gets the benefit of lower spot prices that are expected to arise from the large quantity of renewables entering the South Australian market.

The operation of the contract will improve competition by adding more capacity to the system frm a new market participant. In particular SolarReserve will have a strong incentive to ensure its capacity is running at peak times, which will put downward pressure on peak prices for all consumers.

Peak Government load is as high as 125MW but lower for most of the day and far lower outside of business hours. Throughout the day, whatever Aurora is producing in addition to the State Government’s demand can be sold into the market which will help other consumers.

The Government will pay an expected levelised price of $75/MWh, and no more than $78/MWh.

Solar Reserve

SolarReserve’s concentrated solar power technology uses thousands of mirrors (heliostats) to reflect and concentrate sunlight onto a central receiver on top of a tower. The process heats molten salt, pumped to the top of the tower and flowing through the receiver, to 565 degrees Celsius.

The molten salt provides a stored heat source which is used to generate steam to drive a single turbine that generates electricity. The facility can generate power at full load for up to eight hours after sunset.

 

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Source:  South Australian Government - www.premier.sa.gov.au

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