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Progress has been made on Alinta Energy’s Port Augusta solar thermal feasibility study.

ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said Alinta has narrowed down the options for a renewable energy solution for the South Australian community.

“Alinta commissioned Parsons Brinkerhoff earlier this year to examine the available solar thermal technologies and potential plant locations,” Mr Frischknecht said.

“Parsons Brinckerhoff found that a 50 MW solar thermal plant near Port Augusta’s existing power stations is technically feasible.

“Alinta is now focusing its pre-feasibility work into a stand-alone solar thermal plant using ‘power tower’ technology that would see a field of mirrors concentrate light into a central receiver.

“A stand-alone option was favoured over hybridising existing coal-fired plants due to lower technology risks and the capability to operate on a longer life cycle.

“This next stage of the investigation will give a clearer indication of the costs, logistics and overall feasibility of the plant.”

Mr Frischknecht said the high temperatures generated by power tower technology make it most compatible with molten-salt storage.

“A 50MW plant is capable of harbouring many hours of storage, presenting the key advantage of providing a steady flow of power through the night and during cloudy periods,” Mr Frischknecht said.

“Alinta is favouring a site located to the south-east of the Port Augusta Power Station premises, big enough for the large array of mirrors, while benefiting from close proximity to a grid-connection point.

“The results so far represent an important knowledge sharing outcome for the renewable energy industry and will provide the Port Augusta community with early information on how the project may unfold.”

An executive summary of both recommendations and the options and siting studies are available on the Alinta website: alintaenergy.com.au/solarthermal.

All pre-feasibility work is due for delivery in early 2015. The full feasibility study is due to conclude in December 2015.

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