ARENA wants costs and benefits from Port Augusta solar thermal proponents

SOLAR THERMAL: Solastor's 8 Module Demonstration Plant in Jiangsu, China. They're one of a few solar thermal proponents who are expected to apply for federal funding of up to $110 million for a solar thermal facility in Port Augusta.
SOLAR THERMAL: Solastor's 8 Module Demonstration Plant in Jiangsu, China. They're one of a few solar thermal proponents who are expected to apply for federal funding of up to $110 million for a solar thermal facility in Port Augusta.

A concentrated solar thermal (CST) facility in Port Augusta is one step closer to shining the town with jobs and investment, according to the federal Member for Grey Rowan Ramsey.

His calls come after the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) requested information from prospective industry participants on the costs and benefits of a CST facility on Wednesday, May 24. 

The information will help ARENA and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) to determine the scope and focus of government assistance for the deployment of CST in Australia.

Mr Ramsey said he is pleased with the work of federal Environment and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg and ARENA.

“This announcement is the next step in bringing solar thermal to Port Augusta and confirms the government’s Budget commitment to make $110 million available for an equity investment to accelerate and secure delivery of a solar plant at Port Augusta,” he said.

“Stories circulating suggesting that this facility may go elsewhere are false, the government’s commitment is to Port Augusta.

“The government does not have a preferred technology and quite rightly will be directed by the advice provided by ARENA and the CEFC.”

Mr Ramsey said he visited the SolarReserve solar thermal project in Nevada which was ‘very impressive’ but he also praised Solastor’s graphite block technology CST modular proposal for Port Augusta.

CST facilties essentially work by using mirrors to harness the sun’s energy into a concentrated point generating steam which powers a steam turbine while also having between 8-10 hours of storage.

American based SolarReserve’s Crescent Dunes CST facility has a 110 Megawatts output with 10 hours of storage and costs just under $1 billion (US Dollars).

Australian energy firm Solastor want to build a $700 million CST facility in Port Augusta, albeit with slightly different technology to SolarReserve, and have previously said they don’t need government funding for their project to go ahead.

ARENA is expected to call for funding applications for investment in a CST plant by the end of this year.