As the world takes mighty steps toward a renewable future, the tabloids have been teeming with another scoop that might certainly qualify as one of the most memorable chronicles of 2017 in the sustainable energy cosmos. A state government in Australia has just inaugurated the world’s first supposedly largest solar thermal power plant of its kind. The plant, apparently a 150 MW structure, is slated to be constructed in Port Augusta to the South of Australia, and is approximately worth USD 510 million (AUD 650 million). As per sources, it has been announced that the facility may be equipped sufficiently to supply as much power as required for all the state government projects, and in all probability, may also lead to a modest reduction in electricity prices, as solar power becomes more affordable.
As opposed to solar PV plants, that convert sunlight to electricity and utilize batteries to store the surplus power, solar thermal plants use mirrors that concentrate sunlight in a heating system. The plant at Port Augusta will apparently use numerous heating systems, however, instead of batteries, hot, molten salt will be used, subject to the fact that it is a much more cost-effective storage option compared to batteries.
Developers of the solar thermal plant at Port Augusta assert that the plant will be designed to generate full load electricity for up to 8 hours at least even at sundown. What seems to be even more of an advantageous factor is that, the cost of this plant is quite lesser that what the cost of constructing a coal-fired plant would have been. Also, the cost per megawatt of this plant is the same as what the estimated cost would have been for a solar or wind plant. This economic benefit is likely to act as a crucial push to the government with regards to promoting the renewable energy industry in the country.
If sources are to be believed, the construction of this 150 MW plant is likely to commence by 2018 and may be complete by 2020. The plant will also be offering around 650 construction jobs for the local workforce, thereby boosting the regional employment rate, which is another added benefit, given that numerous workers laid off post the shutting down of the coal-fired plant in the region in 2016 will now have a regular job.
For the record, out of the total percentage of electricity generated in South Australia, more than 40% is delivered from renewable energy sources. With the rapid increase in the rate of harnessing solar power, which is likely to lower power costs in the future, experts claim that Australia will soon emerge to be one of the many principal propagators of renewables.
Saipriya Iyer develops content for Market Size Forecasters. A computer engineer by profession, she ventured into the field of writing for the love of playing with words. Having had a previous experience of 3 years under her belt, she has dabbled with website content writing, content auditing, tech w...