World’s largest thermal power plant to create thousands of SA jobs

SolarReserve has signed a long-term Generation Project Agreement (GPA) to build a 150MW solar thermal power station near the town of Port Augusta, South Australia.

The first of its kind in Australia, the Aurora Solar Energy Project will utilise SolarReserve’s leading solar thermal technology with integrated molten salt energy storage and will enable eight hours of energy storage.

With a massive 1,100 megawatt-hours of energy storage capability, Aurora will be the largest project of its kind in the world, designed to meet the South Australian Government’s annual electricity consumption.

The GPA is similar to a Power Purchase Agreement for renewable energy, except that emphasis is placed on the available capacity of the facility during peak demand periods rather than just the energy that can be delivered in kilowatt-hours.

Aurora will deliver power into the National Electricity Market (NEM) at high value electricity periods, providing additional capacity, energy security and reliability services, as well as competition into the South Australian market.

“SolarReserve’s energy storage technology is an excellent fit for the South Australian electricity system”, said SolarReserve’s CEO Kevin Smith. “Aurora will provide much needed capacity and firm energy delivery into the South Australian market to reduce price volatility.

“SolarReserve looks forward to continuing to work with the South Australian government and stakeholders, including the Port Augusta community where the project is located, to support Federal and State renewable energy targets, stimulate long-term economic development, and create new jobs and businesses.”

Because a solar thermal power station operates like a conventional coal or gas power station, many of the jobs require the same skill sets as conventional energy jobs – from its construction phase through to operations.

They include:

  • 4,000 direct, indirect and induced jobs will be created during construction, with a significant portion of those created in South Australia.
  • 650 full time construction jobs are expected for a duration of 30 months.
  • 50 full-time, permanent jobs will be required for operations and maintenance.

Equipment and services will be purchased across South Australia, which will support an entirely new industry and develop a supply chain which will be leveraged for other solar thermal projects in the state and the broader region.

As part of this transformative project, SolarReserve will be establishing a research partnership with South Australian universities to advance solar thermal research and education in South Australia.

“The Aurora Solar Energy Project will also create new, advanced employment opportunities in regional South Australia,” said South Australia’s Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis. “We are using our energy plan to drive investment and jobs in this growing sector.”

South Australia’s Premier Jay Weatherill added that, considering the closure of a dirty coal fired power station, and now the commissioning of a renewable energy project, the Port Augusta story was “a stark example of the transition of the South Australian economy”.