South Australia planning to build the world’s largest thermal solar plant

South Australia planning to build the world’s largest thermal solar plant, by Cole Latimer.

Following the success of the world’s largest battery, South Australia is aiming to build the world’s largest thermal solar plant.

SolarReserve’s $650 million, 150 megawatt Aurora solar thermal plant has received state development approval. Construction of the facility will begin this year.

After the “bird burner” was declared essentially a failure by the Google engineers who designed and built the Ivanpah project in the Mojave Desert near Las Vegas. Other municipalities abandoned similar schemes. Did SA not get the memo?

Ivanpah’s Problems Could Signal the End of Concentrated Solar in the U.S., by Richard Martin, March 2016.

When it first came online in late 2013, the massive Ivanpah concentrated solar power plant in the California desert looked like the possible future of renewable energy. Now its troubles underline the challenges facing concentrated solar power, which uses mirrors to focus the sun’s rays to make steam and produce electricity. …

The $2.2 billion plant is designed to have 377 megawatts of capacity. But it has been plagued by charges of numerous bird deaths (the birds are supposedly zapped by the fierce beams between the mirrors and the collecting tower; these charges have been largely discounted by environmental impact studies) and accusations of production shortfalls.

Saying that over the last 12 months the facility has reached 97.5 percent of its annual contracted production, BrightSource officials dismissed the supply issues as a normal part of the plant’s startup phase. But the troubles at Ivanpah have joined the delay or cancellation of several high-profile projects as evidence that concentrated solar power could be a fading technology. …

Most of these shuttered projects have been doomed by one factor: cost. Given cheap natural gas and the continued fall in solar photovoltaic prices, concentrated solar has been priced out of the market.

One of the World’s Largest Solar Facilities Is in Trouble, also by Richard Martin, March 2016.

Once considered a high-tech rival to solar photovoltaic, concentrated solar power has fallen from favor in recent years as the cost of photovoltaic panels has plummeted. Last year BrightSource canceled a planned concentrated solar power plant in Inyo County, California.

Concentrated solar has one key advantage over solar photovoltaic, however: coupled with energy storage systems, such as heated molten-salt tanks, it can provide power even when the sun’s not shining.

Even more significantly, global warming is apparently coming to an end this year (it has been weak since 1998) — and there is a mistake in all the climate models, which led to a great overestimate of the effect of carbon dioxide. Oh dear.

hat-tip Scott of the Pacific