New solar thermal power contract awarded

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The South Australian Government has awarded the contract for construction of a 150 megawatt solar thermal power station with eight hours of energy storage near the town of Port Augusta as part of its plan to procure 25 per cent of its electricity load from dispatchable renewable energy providers and drive innovation in storage.

SolarReserve was awarded the contract to supply all of the State Government’s power needs, with the Aurora Solar Energy Project set to be the biggest of its kind in the world and create 650 local jobs during construction and 50 ongoing positions.

The award comes following a tender process to procure 75 per cent of South Australia’s long-term power supply in order to attract a new competitor into the electricity market, increasing competition and putting downward pressure on power prices.

As a large, dispatchable renewable energy generator, SolarReserve provides a single solution that delivers on the goals of both those initiatives.

The offer from SolarReserve was the lowest-cost option of the shortlisted bids with the State Government paying no more than $78/MWh.

Aurora will produce synchronous renewable energy that can be dispatched into the grid when needed – even when the sun isn’t shining. This will have the added benefits of improving grid security and stability, and allowing for greater levels of renewables to be integrated into the system.

Premier, Jay Weatherill, said, “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.

“The Aurora Solar Energy Project will enhance South Australia’s reputation as a leader in clean, cheap renewable energy.

“The project will also deliver about 700 jobs, with requirements for local workers, in the Port Augusta region and will support additional jobs in the long term.”

Minister for Energy, Tom Koutsantonis, said that by using the government’s purchasing power to underwrite the entry of a new player into the market, increased competition can be achieved and put downward pressure on power prices for South Australians.

“The Aurora Solar Energy Project will also create new, advanced employment opportunities in regional South Australia. We are using our energy plan to drive investment and jobs in this growing sector,” Mr Koutsantonis said.

“Along with our grid-scale battery, this solar thermal facility firmly entrenches South Australia as a world leader in the storage of renewable energy.

“This facility, in addition to our state-owned power plant and the world’s largest lithium ion battery, will help to make our energy grid more secure.”

Construction of the $650 million facility will begin in 2018 and is estimated to be completed in 2020.

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