After an anxious five-year wait, Port Augusta is celebrating the announcement of a solar thermal plant 30 kilometres south of the town.
Following an open tender process, SolarReserve has been awarded the contract to supply all of the governments power needs in a 150MW solar thermal power plant, the largest of its kind in the world.
The $650 million facility will be called Aurora and is set to begin construction in 2018, providing 650 local jobs during this phase.
The project is estimated to be completed in 2020 where there will be 50 ongoing positions.
With the government paying no more than $78 per megawatt hour, the plant will be able to provide between eight and 10 hours of storage and has no requirement for gas- or oil-generated electricity as back a backup.
Premier Jay Weatherill said the project will “deliver more competition to the energy market and put a downward pressure on power prices for households and businesses”.
“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.”
Repower Port Augusta chairman Gary Rowbottom has praised the announcement as a huge win for the community and South Australia as a whole.
“For over five years, local Port Augusta community members campaigned for solar thermal alongside the city council unions, local business, health groups, climate groups and renewable energy groups from across Australia as part of the Repower Port Augusta Alliance,” he said.
“We thank Premier Weatherill and the South Australian Government for listening to our community’s overwhelming call and backing this innovative, job-creating solar technology that locks in Port Augusta as an energy powerhouse for SA once again.”
The solar power technology works by using thousands of mirrors known as heliostats to reflect and concentrate sunlight onto a tower which then heats molten salt.