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SolarReserve unveils 450MW solar tower and storage project in Chile

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SolarReserve, the US company hoping to build a 110MW solar tower and storage facility in Port Augusta, has unveiled plans for a facility four times that size in Chile, which would be by far the biggest of its kind in the world.

The 450MW Tamarugal Solar Project would include 5.8GWh of energy storage and deliver solar power, in pretty much any configuration, 24 hours a day. It has now received environmental approvals, and would be bigger than the Ivanpah facility in California, which doesn’t include storage.

solarreserve chileThe project will comprise three 150MW solar thermal towers, each capable of 13 hours of energy storage through molten salts. SolarReserve says it will operate at a capacity factor and availability equal to that of a coal-fired power station.

The company has already been operating its 110MW Crescent Dunes project in Nevada for more than a year, and has begun construction on a similar sized project, Redstone, in South Africa. It also has a 1GW pipeline deal with China’s Shenhua, and is bidding on projects in South Africa, UAE as well as Chile.

This latest project will be bid into an energy auction to be held by the Chile government later this year. In previous auctions, SolarReserve has outbid competing gas generators and its other Chile project secured a price of around $63/MWh, thanks to the country’s excellent solar resources.

Tom Georgis, SolarReserve’s head of development, said the technology could deliver solar energy 24 hours a day without requiring any fossil fuel.

“The Tamarugal project will help stabilise and lower electricity costs for Chilean families and businesses, while ensuring energy security for the country,” he said.

“What’s happening in Chile is a preview of the future of solar around the world. We’ve proven that solar can compete head-to-head with conventional energy on both functionality and cost.”

This means the solar power can be more easily integrated into existing grid and can provide firm capacity to meet demand during peaks – a critical component in high renewable regions like South Australia, where it is competing in a government auction for firm capacity.

SolarReserve has said that if it wins that project, the way will open for up to six such projects in the state, each offering constant solar power, meeting baseload or peak load requirements, or both.

The Tamarugal Solar Project has received environmental approvals.  

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  • Chris A

    Is that US$63/MWh Giles?

  • Kevfromspace

    What an amazing price. If only the South Australian government would get off their asses and do something serious about Solar Thermal in Australia. SolarReserve are ready and willing to build this project, they have a social licence from the community (see Repower Port Augusta and polling figures). Pollies in Australia really have no long term vision or think-outside-the-box mentality. Jay Weatherill and Tom Koutsantonis have been saying gas is the answer to all of South Australia’s energy problems for over a year now, and look where it’s got us.

    • Rod

      Hopefully the news about impending gas shortages will tip the scales back towards Solar Thermal.

  • Brunel

    I wonder what is the cost of storage in this power station.

    • solarguy

      Very low, about $163/kwh built cost. Pro rata that over 20yrs = cheap as chips. Molten salt doesn’t wear out either. Heat in this medium can be stored for weeks and used for a rainy day.

  • solarguy

    Yep this what SA gov needs to put into action now. CST is the best bang for the RE buck, as it includes storage. SA needs extra capacity, not just storage, so it’s a marriage made in heaven. While a plant in Port Augusta is being built, bung in a Tesla battery or what ever companies offering to soak up excess wind and solar.
    If they don’t do this soon, it will be a matter of won’t rather than can’t. The huge win in WA for Labor is a big hammer for RE. Strike while the iron is hot!

    • Rod

      My thoughts exactly.
      Jay’s big announcement is on Tuesday and hopefully he is thinking along the same lines. I even saw the opposition leader giving the thumbs up to Elon’s offer. WTF?
      I know there was an RE element to the WA election (saw some of the Solar Citizen people in some footage) and would love to know what effect it had.

      • solarguy

        Yep, even heard on the radio news a couple of hours ago that Turnbull is recommending SA put in a battery. WTF indeed!
        I think it won’t be to long before we find out what effect RE had on the election.