The two solar thermal groups say the development of concentrating solar thermal technologies could meet the need for new dispatchable generation capacity while supporting the broader electricity grid to continue its process of decarbonisation.
The creation of a dedicated energy storage target – as has been advocated by both the Clean Energy Council and the Victoria Energy Policy Centre – could also support the development of new solar thermal technologies.
“Quickly deploying long-duration renewable energy storage into the grid is the only way Australia can decarbonise while keeping the lights on and, designed in the right way, the capacity mechanism can support this,” Zaal said.
“With over 95 CSP systems in operation around the world generating more than 6GW per annum, the proposed capacity mechanism is a timely incentive to drive deployment of the technology in Australia.”
Home-grown solar thermal technology has shown significant promise, but has yet to achieve the large-scale commercialisation currently being enjoyed by wind, solar PV – and more recently by battery technologies.
Several solar thermal projects have secured government backing, only to fall short of delivering a working large-scale project.
The latest endeavour – Vast Solar’s proposal for a 20MW concentrating solar thermal facility at Port Augusta – recently secured a concessional loan of up to $110 million from the federal government and would be the largest Australian solar thermal project if completed.
The Port Augusta project would include up to 12 hours of energy storage, potentially allowing the project to run continuously for multiple days.
Vast Solar has also partnered with Queensland government-owned utility Stanwell to progress a proposal for a 50MW hybrid solar thermal project in Mount Isa that would include solar PV, battery storage and a new gas-fired peaking generator.