ARENA today announced $450,000 funding for Abengoa to conduct a feasibility study into a solar thermal power station in remote Western Australia.
ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said the study will look into constructing a 20 MWe plant in Perenjori, connected to the South West Interconnected System (SWIS) electricity grid. “The solar thermal tower and a molten-salt energy storage system could supply power to a mining operation and the remote community of Perenjori.
“Importantly, Abengoa is considering elements of CSIRO’s solar thermal technology, which was developed with ARENA support. It’s another example of how ARENA invests across the innovation chain to bring emerging Australian technologies towards commercialisation,” Mr Frischknecht said.
Mr Frischknecht said it was a great opportunity for Australia, with Abengoa’s proven track record of delivering large-scale solar thermal plants overseas. “The choice of Perenjori is consistent with the research conducted in the ARENA-funded ‘Breaking the Solar Gridlock’ study that shows solar thermal could eliminate the need for network augmentation in more than 70% of the cases examined.
“The site has a world-class solar resource and end-of-grid connection of a solar thermal power plant with storage would provide significant network benefits. Storage will allow the plant to generate electricity when needed and match evening peak demand on the SWIS. The project has the potential to uncover valuable learning for future solar thermal projects.
“In particular, the study will assess CSIRO’s heliostat technology for commercial scale solar thermal and supply chain opportunities, which could lead to significant cost reductions,” Mr Frischknecht said.
The plant would involve a large field of heliostat reflectors concentrating sunlight to a receiver at the top of a tower. The project would generate up to 100 GWh of electricity each year, enough to power the equivalent of over 15,000 Australian homes. Results from the study are expected to be delivered in April 2015.