Port Augusta's solar thermal plant delayed

ENERGY: Port Augusta's solar thermal power plant is expected to operate by 2021. PHOTO: SolarReserve.
ENERGY: Port Augusta's solar thermal power plant is expected to operate by 2021. PHOTO: SolarReserve.

SolarReserve confirmed the Aurora solar thermal power plant would not be up and running until 2021, claiming a funding delay had come as a result of an expansion to the project.

Development activities for the Aurora Solar Energy Project must be checked off before the financing can be completed, which a SolarReserve spokesperson admitted has “taken longer than envisaged”.

SolarReserve believes financing will be secured by early 2019, with construction starting soon after.

“We anticipate that construction will be completed in 2020, with commissioning activities and commercial operation in 2021,” the spokesperson said.

SolarReserve declared the project had been partly held up due to its decision to add 70 megawatts of solar photovoltaics (PV) technology to the power plant.

The move to include PV is expected to maximise electricity generation from the concentrated solar power facility during peak demand period.

“The addition of PV would provide station power and power for auxiliary loads, eliminating the need to utilize power from the grid,” the spokesperson said.

“It would also enable the facility to supply more fully dispatchable electricity to the grid, adding capacity and turbine flexibility.

“An additional 250 jobs for 12 months would be added, as well as increased jobs during operations and maintenance.”

Funding for the project was touted to be locked down by the middle of 2018, followed by the commencement of the construction phase.

Despite being behind its initial schedule, SolarReserve is confident in securing the funds for the $650 million facility.

“There remains very strong support from financiers to participate in the project,” the spokesperson said. “Financing activities are now accelerating as the development and tendering activities reach a conclusion.”

The company recently secured a partnership with Heliostat SA to manufacture and supply 12,800 mirror assemblies for the Aurora project.

SolarReserve underlined its commitment to supplying the South Australian government with electricity for 20 years.