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Concentrated Solar Power firms eye involvement in Australian projects

2018.03.21     From: CSP Today

Several of the CSP industry’s most experienced players have expressed interested in being involved in projects in Australia, according to the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).


Thirty-one engineering firms, technology providers, and industry associations from around the world responded to ARENA’s request for information on CSP projects, among them nine companies with more than 1 GW of CSP projects in their portfolio.


The 2 MW Sundrop Farm in South Australia is the largest tower system in Australia and is mainly used for heat, ARENA noted. CSIRO, the government’s scientific research organization, also has a small research tower system in Newcastle, New South Wales, to research natural gas reforming.


Most of Australia enjoys the high DNI needed for successful CSP projects (Image credit: SolarGIS)


In a summary of the various submissions, ARENA said proponents capable of delivering CSP systems were willing to design and build these in whichever configuration between continuous output and peaking that is requested or motivated by the commercial arrangements offered. The overall view was that flexible operation with between four and 10 hours of storage is probably optimal for Australia’s main-grid.


Regarding location, the broad consensus was that direct normal irradiance needs to be above 2,000/kWh/m2/year for projects to be viable. This implies that anywhere west of the Great Dividing Range (the mountain range dividing the heavily-populated eastern seaboard from the rest of the country) can be considered, ARENA said.


The major issue for many companies was the desirable size of a CSP plant regarding rated power capacity. There was a broad consensus that greater than about 50 MW is needed because of economies of scale and that plants up to 300 MW can readily be contemplated. Beyond that size, increasing losses in energy transport pipes or of reflected radiation from heliostats outweighs further economy-of-scale advantages or turbine-efficiency improvements.


SolarReserve partners with mining company to build power lines in Australia


SolarReserve and Oz Minerals have agreed to commission a new high voltage electricity transmission line in South Australia. The power line will meet both companies’ current operational requirements and accommodate their respective growth strategies for the region.


Collaborating on a single line also minimizes impacts on the landscape, helping to protect the environment and Aboriginal heritage, SolarReserve said.


The new power line will serve Aurora and nearby mining projects (Image: SolarReserve)


Solar Reserve will begin construction on its Aurora project in South Australia by mid-2018 and should begin generating power around the end of 2020. Oz Minerals is the sole owner and operator of Prominent Hill, a copper-gold mine in northern South Australia. It is also developing a copper-gold project at Carrapateena, 160 km north of Port Augusta, the closest town to Aurora.


The power line will be 270 km long, with OZ Minerals and SolarReserve equally sharing operational costs for the first 35 km of the line. ElectraNet has been engaged to provide preliminary services for the design and tender of the new transmission line solution. Preliminary work is underway, with the line expected to be operational by mid-2020.


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