Aurora Solar Energy Project gets development approval

An artist's rendering of the Aurora Solar Energy Project

SolarReserve has received development approval for its Aurora Solar Energy Project, a key milestone required to build the landmark 150MW solar thermal power station 30km north of Port Augusta.

The approval process examined a range of critical elements, including environmental, community and social impacts of the Aurora project, which were assessed by several South Australian government agencies.

“It’s fantastic that SolarReserve has received development approval to move forward with this world-leading project that will deliver clean, dispatchable renewable energy to supply our electrified rail, hospitals, schools and other major government buildings,” South Australian Acting Energy Minister Chris Picton said.

“This approval triggers an investment of about $650 million, will create a total of about 700 construction and ongoing jobs in Port Augusta and will add new competition to the South Australian market, putting downward pressure on power prices.”

SolarReserve CEO Kevin Smith said the development approval was a significant step in the development of the solar thermal power station.

“The remarkable story of the transition of Port Augusta from coal to renewable energy – which won a competitive tender against fossil fuel – is also a preview of the future of power generation around the world,” Mr Smith said.

The first of its kind in Australia, the Aurora Solar Energy Project will utilise SolarReserve’s solar thermal technology with integrated molten salt energy storage. Aurora will generate electricity and collect and store the sun’s energy during the daytime – essentially charging its own salt battery for use after the sun has set. Aurora’s massive 1,100MWh of storage will provide eight hours of full load power after dark.

The power station will provide the equivalent electricity needs of all of the state’s schools, hospitals, police stations and government buildings over a full year.

As part of SolarReserve’s project development process, the company will collaborate with stakeholders and local communities to ensure the project has minimal environmental impact while working to maximise benefits for local communities.

The Aurora Solar Energy Project has had overwhelming support from not only the Port Augusta and South Australian community but a range of local agencies and organisations including the local Barngarla Aboriginal Group.

Final approvals for the project are expected in the first half of 2018 and construction expected to commence shortly thereafter.