3 July 2014 — BRIEF: Alinta Energy has narrowed its pre-feasibility work for a Port Augusta solar thermal plant to a standalone 50-megawatt tower, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency today (Thursday) announced.

“Alinta commissioned Parsons Brinkerhoff earlier this year to examine the available solar thermal technologies and potential plant locations,” ARENA chief executive Ivor Frischknecht said.

“Parsons Brinckerhoff found that a 50MW solar thermal plant near Port Augusta’s existing power stations is technically feasible.

“Alinta is now focusing its pre-feasibility work into a stand-alone solar thermal plant using ‘power tower’ technology that would see a field of mirrors concentrate light into a central receiver.

“A stand-alone option was favoured over hybridising existing coal-fired plants due to lower technology risks and the capability to operate on a longer life cycle.”

The use of a tower meant that storage of electricity using molten-salt technology was an option, Mr Frischknecht said.

“A 50MW plant is capable of harbouring many hours of storage, presenting the key advantage of providing a steady flow of power through the night and during cloudy periods,” he said.

An executive summary of both recommendations and the options and siting studies are available on the Alinta website.

The next stage of investigation will give a better estimation of costs, logistics and overall feasibility. All pre-feasibility work is due for delivery in early 2015, and the full feasibility study is due to conclude in December 2015.

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