Manufacturing MoU inked for 150 MW CSP Aurora project in SA

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The 150 MW Aurora solar thermal plant located at Port Augusta is poised to feature heliostats and heliostat components manufactured and assembled by Heliostat SA, under a memorandum of understanding (MoU) inked with the project developer, SolarReserve.

Under the MOU, the two companies will work on the development of plans and processes for the supply, fabrication and assembly of more than 12,800 of SolarReserve’s SR96 heliostat assemblies, which will be integrated with SolarReserve’s molten salt receiver and controls system.

The giant $650 million project incorporates heliostats, or mirrors, which follow the Sun throughout the day and concentrate sunlight onto a tower that heats molten salt to create steam to power a turbine. In addition, it features as an eight-hour full load storage, enabling on-demand energy production day and night. 

The project is expected to cover 100% of the South Australia government’s power needs, under a 20-year generation project agreement inked last year. SolarReserve’s bid at the time of $78/MWh was unexpectedly low for CSP, and went on to win the government tender.

Prior to that, the former Labor state government approved $110 million in form of a concessional equity loan to back the project with an eye on putting downward pressure on electricity prices, thus making it possible for SolarReserve to offer the lowest-cost option in the tendering process.

In January, the Aurora plant was granted development approval by the South Australian Government, paving the way for construction to begin this year.

According to the latest release, close to 200 jobs could be created in South Australia as a result of the MoU, including over 115 skilled labor positions related to manufacturing of steel components and heliostat assemblies.

The two companies are working together to complete the final agreement, which includes achieving as much local content and labor as possible.

Overall, the Aurora project in Port August is anticipated to create an additional 650 full-time construction jobs on site, and more than 4,000 direct, indirect and induced jobs in the region.

The Aurora project, which is touted as the largest such facility in the world, is being developed with the option to add solar PV technology in order to maximize electricity generation from the CSP facility during peak demand periods, as well as meet the station’s own electricity needs. The addition of PV could broaden the scope of Heliostat SA’s manufacturing supply to include PV racking systems.

But, in the words of SolarResrve, the Aurora project is part of a much bigger picture for SA.

The U.S. firm says it is looking to build six solar thermal projects in the state over the next ten years, with its Australian headquarters in Adelaide serving as the development hub and South Australian manufacturing well-positioned to support these future projects.

“The Aurora project along with SolarReserve’s future investment in the state will develop a supply chain and local manufacturing expertise that can be leveraged across the broader region, create thousands of jobs for South Australians, and bring about a new age in clean, reliable and affordable energy,” said Tom Georgis, SolarReserve’s Senior Vice President of Development.