SA's solar thermal plant gets approval

Port Augusta solar thermal plant development approved

"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", South Australia's acting energy minister Chris Picton told the Sydney Morning Herald.

Following the success of the world's largest battery, South Australia is aiming to build the world's largest thermal solar plant.

"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.

U.S. energy company SolarReserve's A$650 million (NZ$709 million), 150 megawatt Aurora solar thermal plant has received state development approval.

As part of this transformative project, SolarReserve will be establishing a research partnership with South Australian universities to advance solar thermal research and education in South Australia.

The solar thermal plant will be part of the state government's energy plan.

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The plant works by using thousands of heliostats to focus solar energy onto a single central tower.

The Aurora CSP park, which will be installed near Port Augusta, will incorporate 1,100 MWh of molten salt energy storage capacity. Aurora will generate electricity and collect and store the sun's energy during the daytime - in essence "charging" its own salt battery for use after the sun has set.

The project, during the construction phase, could create an estimated 4000 direct, indirect and induced jobs in South Australia.

"They are deeply committed to decarbonisation, whereas the federal government is a virtual climate denier", said Ms Bell.

Renewable energy has seen extensive investment in recent years, and a report released by the Conservation Council of South Australia in 2015 concluded the state could be powered by 100 per cent renewable energy by 2030. "And it has already met its target of 50 per cent renewable energy nearly a decade early", said Natalie Collard, Clean Energy Council executive general manager, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. "Our electricity system is rapidly moving towards one which will be smarter and cleaner, with a range of technologies providing high-tech, reliable, lower-cost power".

The development follows Tesla's construction of the world's largest lithium ion battery in South Australia, which has already helped provide power during energy outages.

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