Solar Thermal Generation – SYDNEYJuly, 2014 ( Solar Thermal Magazine ) – Alinta Energy’s full feasibility study into solar thermal generation has reached another milestone this month with the recommendation of an assessment of stand-alone power tower technology at Port Augusta. This recommendation follows the completion of the second stage of Alinta Energy’s two-year feasibility study into solar thermal generation at Port Augusta, which comprised the Options Study and Siting Study.
The results will see Alinta Energy pursue an assessment of stand-alone power tower technology at a site to the southeast of Augusta Power Stations.
Together with a world-leading third-party engineering organisation, Parsons Brinckerhoff, Alinta Energy made a thorough assessment of solar thermal generation against multiple criteria in a formal weighting process: technological maturity (and experience in operation), risks to integration or operations, predictability, land usage, and dual financial metrics (total installed cost and levelised cost of energy).
In addition to the formal results, Alinta Energy believes that stand-alone technology presents a greater potential for commercialisation than a hybrid system — a power generation system made up of one or more renewable sources. Executive Director Power Generation at Alinta Energy, Ken Woolley, says stand-alone technology mitigates the integration risks associated with hybridisation and offers potential generation opportunities beyond the life of its current coal-fired operations.
“There are real and significant challenges to developing and constructing solar thermal technology, including capital costs that are currently prohibitive,” says Woolley.
However, Alinta Energy is committed to completing the solar thermal full feasibility study with the due diligence it warrants. This will provide a comprehensive information base for potential investment partners to consider should the cost of technology or regulatory environment change.
To inform the remainder of the study, Alinta Energy has selected a location to the south-east of the Augusta Power Station site. The site selection process considered various factors including proximity to a connection point (power or sub-station), environmental and heritage impacts, slope and flooding potential, and land use or ability to acquire.
The Stage One study is continuing to the end of 2014, with a Balance of Study report scheduled for submission to ARENA in early 2015 and due to be made public by March 2015. This report will include a complete description of the prospective solar thermal power plant at the preferred site. Stage 2, which will take place during 2015, aims to further refine study data to an accuracy of +/- 15%.
Alinta Energy’s $2.3 million two-year feasibility study received $1 million of support from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and $130,000 from the South Australian Government.