All of the South Australia government’s power needs will be supplied by the 150 MW Aurora solar thermal plant located at Port Augusta, which is scheduled to break ground in 2018, and to be commissioned by 2020.
Expected to pay a maximum of A$78 (US$ 62)/MWh, the government entered into a 20-year generation project agreement with U.S. company Solar Reserve earlier this week.
The giant A$650 million (US$ 515 million) project incorporates heliostats, or mirrors, to concentrate sunlight onto a tower that heats molten salt to create steam and power a turbine, as well as an eight-hour full load storage, enabling on-demand energy production day and night.
Seeking to put downward pressure on electricity prices, the federal government decided in May to back the Port Augusta project with a total of A$110 million approved in form of a concessional equity loan.
“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 Premier of South Australia Jay Weatherill, stressing that the project will boost competition and create jobs.
According to Solar Reserve, the Aurora plant will be able to produce more than 495 GWh annually, which is around 5% of South Australia’s energy needs, with no requirement for gas or oil generated electricity as a backup.
According to recently released data from the Australian Energy Regulator, South Australia has already surpassed its target of 50% renewables by 2025 eight years early, reaching 57% in the first nine months of 2016/17 to 31 March 2017, as solar met 7.6% of South Australia’s demand.
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