A 150 MW solar thermal power plant is to built in South Australia by SolarReserve. The Aurora Solar Energy Project, located in Port Augusta about 300km north of the South Australian capital Adelaide, will incorporate a gigantic 1100 MWh of storage, equivalent to eight operating hours and allowing it to operate like a conventional power station.
The AU$650 million plant – said to be the biggest of its kind in the world – will have a capacity of about 135 MW under normal operation with the ability to increase that output in favourable conditions. It will be situated about 150km northwest of Jamestown, the site of Tesla’s record-breaking lithium-ion storage battery at Hornsdale Wind Farm
Aurora will deliver 495 GWh of energy annually – providing fully dispatchable baseload electricity to the network. The plant will go ahead following the award to SolarReserve of a contract with the South Australian government
In September 2016 the State Government launched a tender process to procure 75% 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 offer from SolarReserve was the lowest-cost option of the shortlisted bids with the Government paying no more than $78/MWh.
The project will use thousands of heliostats to reflect and concentrate sunlight at 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 °C. The molten salt stored heat source generate steams to drive a single turbine. The facility can generate power at full load for up to eight hours after sunset.
The project is a big win for the Port Augusta community, which is still recovering from the closure of a major coal-fired power station in the town last year.