Australian Solar Thermal Power Innovation Project an Example of Private Investment Leveraged by Australian Renewable Energy Agency

VAST SOLAR | MEDIA RELEASE Tuesday 20 May 2014

Australian solar thermal power innovation company Vast Solar ( announced today it had commenced construction of a 6MWth (1.1MWe) concentrating solar thermal (CST) power pilot plant near Forbes, New South Wales.

The project, which will demonstrate Vast Solar’s low cost, high efficiency CST generation system, is funded by majority private investment with significant support from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).

The first-of-kind project, which includes 3 hours’ thermal storage that will enable the plant to generate electricity day or night on demand, is expected to be operating to supply electricity into the National Energy Market by the end of the year.

Vast Solar’s CEO Andrew Want today said that when completed the Jemalong Solar Thermal Station would be the only standalone solar thermal power plant with thermal energy storage generating power to the grid in Australia.

“Concentrating solar thermal (CST) power is important for Australia and for many sunny regions around the world,” Mr Want said.

Solar thermal power a cost-effective ingredient for powering a hungry grid

A collaborative research study has shown energy derived from concentrating solar thermal power (CST) can be a cost-effective solution to augmenting Australia's power grid, saving almost a $1b in network investment.

With electricity prices rising steeply across the country, the study reveals that CST plants, which provide large-scale energy storage, could reduce the need for new electricity poles and wires and help cut consumer energy bills. At the same time, using CST plants in the national grid could provide a pathway to significant investment in CST in Australia.

The study examined the benefits of installing CST at key points in electricity networks where major network investment is planned to cope with growth in demand or with problems with voltage.

The Australian Solar Thermal Energy Association (AUSTELA) led the research collaboration that included the University of Technology, Sydney's Institute for Sustainable Futures (ISF), the University of NSW, and Queensland-based Ergon Energy.

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Ivanpah 392 MW concentrated solar project now online

The world's biggest concentrated solar power project is connected to the grid after spending January offline, SolarServer reported. Data analyzed by renewable energy consultant Bernard Chabot shows little power production at the 392 megawatt Ivanpah Solar Thermal Project, which covers 3,500 acres in San Bernardino County in California. Energy firm NRG Energy, tech company Google and CSP firm BrightSource Energy own the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System.

Combining thermal and solar energy generation, the Ivanpah project uses over 300,000 mirrors to reflect sunlight to boilers held on three 459-foot towers, the website for the project said.

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Breaking the Solar Gridlock Workshop

Events on solving network constraints and improving the economics of concentrating solar power (CSP)

Receive training on Australian tools designed to assist project developers, financiers, regulators, network planners and engineers with siting CSP plants and evaluate their economic performance, including potential new income streams. Hear from lead researchers, policy makers, network businesses and renewable energy advocates on the status of CSP in Australia and overseas, current projects and funding opportunities, and key findings from two ground breaking ARENA-funded research projects.

Download the Event Flyer for more information 

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Media Release. Minister for Resources and Energy

Calculating the prospects of solar thermal
25 July 2013

Resources and Energy Minister Gary Gray today launched new online tools supported by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency that will help researchers, developers and financiers assess the commercial prospects of Concentrating Solar Thermal power projects in Australia.

"Concentrating solar thermal systems have the potential to play a significant role in future electricity networks as they can store energy, which means clean energy can be dispatched to homes and businesses at anytime of the day or night," Mr Gray said.

"Through ARENA, the Government is investing in technologies and projects that will increase the use of renewable energy in Australia.

"These new tools – which will optimise an industry-leading United States model for Australian conditions – will make it easier for developers and financiers to assess the commercial viability of concentrating solar thermal projects."

Read the full Media Release (external Link) 

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Contact Details

Australian Solar Thermal Energy Association Ltd
ACN: 149 005 210
PO Box 6127
ACT 2602, Australia