A $1.2 billion concentrated solar power (CSP) station has been proposed for Port Augusta in South Australia by renewables company Solastor Australia.
Its chairman John Hewson, a former federal Liberal leader, will announce more details of the plan in Adelaide in coming days.
Solastor’s plan involves concave mirrors that focus sunlight onto a 10 tonne receiver made of graphite, which is heated to 800 degrees Celsius.
The heat is then used to create steam to power a 110 megawatt generator.
The company said stage one would be a 1 megawatt demonstration plant, which could be finished by the end of the year.
It said it was working with the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency on gaining funding support from the Clean Energy Innovation Fund.
Another company also has solar-thermal plans for Port Augusta.
SolarReserve, of the United States, has been seeking federal support to build a plant that uses molten salt rather than graphite — a technology the company already uses in Nevada.
A concentrated solar power (CSP) expert from IT Power, Keith Lovegrove, said the technology would be important to the future of renewable energy, because power could be stored rather than needing the wind or sun at the time.
He said molten salt technology had become an industry standard.
“That’s come to dominate the CSP (concentrating solar power) industry globally, but it’s certainly by no means the only way to store energy — there’s many companies and research organisations looking at alternatives,” he said.
Dr Lovegrove said there was no reason not to have two new power stations at Port Augusta.
“There’s plenty of land in that region of South Australia. It’s a perfect location if we can just get started on the first plant, that’s part of a pipeline of building, maybe dozens,” he said.