SolarReserve, the US company hoping to build a 110MW solar tower and storage facility in Port Augusta, has unveiled plans for a facility four times that size in Chile, which would be by far the biggest of its kind in the world.
The 450MW Tamarugal Solar Project would include 5.8GWh of energy storage and deliver solar power, in pretty much any configuration, 24 hours a day. It has now received environmental approvals, and would be bigger than the Ivanpah facility in California, which doesn’t include storage.
The project will comprise three 150MW solar thermal towers, each capable of 13 hours of energy storage through molten salts. SolarReserve says it will operate at a capacity factor and availability equal to that of a coal-fired power station.
The company has already been operating its 110MW Crescent Dunes project in Nevada for more than a year, and has begun construction on a similar sized project, Redstone, in South Africa. It also has a 1GW pipeline deal with China’s Shenhua, and is bidding on projects in South Africa, UAE as well as Chile.
This latest project will be bid into an energy auction to be held by the Chile government later this year. In previous auctions, SolarReserve has outbid competing gas generators and its other Chile project secured a price of around $63/MWh, thanks to the country’s excellent solar resources.
Tom Georgis, SolarReserve’s head of development, said the technology could deliver solar energy 24 hours a day without requiring any fossil fuel.
“The Tamarugal project will help stabilise and lower electricity costs for Chilean families and businesses, while ensuring energy security for the country,” he said.
“What’s happening in Chile is a preview of the future of solar around the world. We’ve proven that solar can compete head-to-head with conventional energy on both functionality and cost.”
This means the solar power can be more easily integrated into existing grid and can provide firm capacity to meet demand during peaks – a critical component in high renewable regions like South Australia, where it is competing in a government auction for firm capacity.
SolarReserve has said that if it wins that project, the way will open for up to six such projects in the state, each offering constant solar power, meeting baseload or peak load requirements, or both.
The Tamarugal Solar Project has received environmental approvals.
Giles Parkinson is a journalist of 30 years experience, a former Business Editor and Deputy Editor of the Financial Review, a columnist for The Bulletin magazine and The Australian, and the former editor of Climate Spectator.