California-based renewable energy company SolarReserve will begin construction of the world’s biggest solar thermal power station, with the capacity to generate 150 megawatts (MW) of electricity, in South Australia in 2018.
The US company has signed a long-term agreement with the Australian government to build the power station near the town of Port Augusta, 300km north of Adelaide.
The Aurora Solar Energy Project will use tracking mirrors called heliostats to focus the sun’s rays and heat molten salt, which will create steam and power a turbine to generate electricity. Molten salt will also be used for storing energy, with 1100MWh of power set to be available on demand.
The plant is expected to be up and running by 2020, and will create 650 jobs during construction, with 50 full-time positions available once it’s up and running.
“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,” said South Australia’s Premier Jay Weatherill.
“SolarReserve’s energy storage technology is an excellent fit for the South Australian electricity system”, said SolarReserve’s CEO Kevin Smith. “Aurora will provide much needed capacity and firm energy delivery into the South Australian market to reduce price volatility.”