World's largest solar thermal plant to be built in S Australia

Updated 2018-01-11 14:01:00 Xinhua

The world's largest solar-thermal power plant has been given development approval by the South Australian government.

Construction on the 150-megawatt Aurora plant, to be built by utility-scale solar power company SolarReserve, will begin in 2018 at an estimated cost of 509 million U.S. dollars.

Chris Picton, South Australia's acting energy minister, said the plant would create 650 construction jobs and 50 ongoing positions when completed.

"It's fantastic that SolarReserve has received development approval to move forward with this world-leading project that will deliver clean, dispatchable renewable energy to supply our electrified rail, hospitals and schools," Picton told reporters in Adelaide on Wednesday.

"South Australia is fast becoming a global center for the development of renewable energy with storage, with a range of other projects set to come online over the next few years."

The plant will work by using a series of mirrors to concentrate sunlight on a receiver at the top of a 220-meter tower.

The sunlight will then heat molten salt to 565 degrees centigrade, generating steam to drive a turbine that will produce 150 megawatts of electricity making it the largest single-tower solar thermal plant in the world.

It will have the capacity to power 90,000 homes with eight hours of full load storage.

It will join the largest lithium-ion battery, built by Tesla to complement the state's power grid during the high-demand summer, as another major renewable energy project in South Australia.

Kevin Smith, CEO of SolarReserve, described the plant as "a preview of the future of power generation around the world."

"It is a significant step in the development of the Aurora solar thermal power station, which will bring clean power generation technology to South Australia," he said.

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