BACK FROM THE BRINK


The Aurora Solar Energy Project was supposed to be the location of Australia’s first large scale solar thermal and storage project until US project developer SolarReserve failed to get finance and ultimately went broke. South Australia’s 1414 then bought the rights to the undeveloped project and has now signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Australian concentrated solar power (CSP) technology company Vast Solar.

1414 Degrees has just announced it may add modular concentrated solar power to the project’s current proposed mix of solar PV, battery storage and 1414’s proprietary thermal storage. It looks as though it’s all back on.

The MoU serves to formalise the two companies’ plans to investigate the commercial feasibility of incorporating Vast Solar’s modular CSP technology into the Aurora Solar Energy Project.

The project is now envisioned as a multi-stage renewable energy park which will start with a 70MW solar PV farm and battery energy storage.

The second phase will add 1414’s large-scale, long-duration Thermal Energy Storage System (TESS) which is intended to provide over 1GWh of grid-scale storage.

The project has also included a vague third phase which would turn the project into a “hybrid power station” and include “other technologies such as CSP.”

Vast Solar’s modular CSP technology – which has benefited from financial assistance from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) – bills itself as “unlike chemical batteries” in that it is “scalable not stackable.”

The company’s scalable modular CSP arrays eliminate turbine sizing limitations of central tower plants and can be configured anywhere from 50MW to 500MW and boast anywhere from 4 hours of storage through to 16 hours. Further, with multiple smaller towers and receivers, there is no longer a single point of failure.

The newly signed MoU will further Aurora’s goal of becoming “a globally important showcase of world-leading technologies to deliver dispatchable renewable electricity” while providing secure and reliable renewable electricity at low cost.

The collaboration between 1414 and Vast will first assess the mutual benefits of increased utilisation of the transmission assets, reduction of potential spilled energy, and maximisation of revenue stacks to demonstrate competitive levelised cost of energy (LCoE) and levelised cost of storage (LCoS).