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UPDATE - SolarReserve wins USD-511m CSP project in S Australia

CSP facility in Spain. Author: afloresm. License: Creative Commons, Attribution 2.0 Generic

Story has been updated early on August 15.

Aug 15 (Renewables Now) - SolarReserve LLC has won a contract to build in South Australia a 150-MW concentrating solar power (CSP) plant with 1,100 MWh of molten salt energy storage capacity to serve the State Government’s needs.

Construction will start next year, with completion planned for 2020, Premier Jay Weatherill announced today. The total cost of the Aurora Solar Energy Project is AUD 650 million (USD 511m/EUR 433m).

The South Australian government and the US company signed a 20-year Generation Project Agreement (GPA) on Monday. SolarReserve explained that this contract is similar to a power purchase agreement (PPA) but the difference is that a GPA is struck for the available capacity of the power plant during peak demand periods and not just for the output in kWh as the PPA.

The Government said it expects to pay a levelised price of about AUD 75 per MWh, and no more than AUD 78/MWh.

Peak Government load can reach 125 MW, but it is lower for most of the day and falls further outside of business hours. Any Aurora power during the day in excess of the volumes needed to meet the State Government’s demand can be sold into the market.

“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,” said Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis.

In September 2016 the government launched a tender process to procure 75% of its long-term power supply with the goal to introduce a new competitor into the electricity market. That tender followed an announcement in July that the South Australian government would procure 25% of its electricity load from dispatchable renewable energy providers as it sought to stimulate innovation in storage and other technologies. Weatherill said today that SolarReserve provides a single solution that delivers on the goals of both those initiatives.

“Aurora will provide much needed capacity and firm energy delivery into the South Australian market to reduce price volatility,” said SolarReserve chief executive Kevin Smith.

The Aurora CSP project will use mirrors, or heliostats, to concentrate sunlight onto a central receiver on top of a tower. It will be able to generate power at full load for up to eight hours after the sun is down. Thus, the power plant will help boost grid security and stability.

SolarReserve said that equipment and services will be purchased across the state, supporting new industry and developing a supply chain which will be leveraged for other solar thermal projects in South Australia and the region. As part of the project, SolarReserve will also establish a research partnership with universities in the state to advance solar thermal research and education in South Australia.

In July it was announced that Tesla Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) has won a tender to build a 100 MW/129 MWh energy storage facility in South Australia.

(AUD 1 = USD 0.79/EUR 0.67)

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Browse all articles from Tsvetomira Tsanova

Tsvet has been following the development of the global renewable energy industry for almost nine years. She's got a soft spot for emerging markets.

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