New push for 100MW solar tower project near Kalgoorlie | RenewEconomy

New push for 100MW solar tower project near Kalgoorlie

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Interest in building a 100MW plus solar thermal plant near Kalgoorlie has been revived, as miners turn to solar to deflect volatile diesel costs.

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Interest in building a 100MW plus solar thermal plant in Western Australia’s Goldfields region has been revived, as more miners turn their interest to solar and other renewables as a means to deflect volatile diesel costs.

Two solar developers are considering plans for large scale solar thermal, such as solar towers plus storage, at the Mundari Industrial estate, around 23kms west of Kalgoorlie.

One of those is WA-based company Exergy Power, which discussed the proposal in 2013 but has rekindled interest as solar costs fall and as miners become increasingly interested in renewable energy alternatives. Earlier this week, copper miner Sandfire Resources announced a $40 million solar PV plus battery storage project at its off-grid DeGrussa mine north east of Perth.

The Kalgoorlie Miner reported this week that Exergy Power is looking at a $600 million, 115MW capacity solar thermal plant that would cover 700ha.

It quoted Exergy Energy CEO Brian Reddy saying that the Prospector Solar Thermal Generation Facility, which would employ 1500 people during a three-year construction period and up to 70 people once operational, had attracted the interest of four mining companies in the Goldfields.

“For previous projects, the timing wasn’t quite right,” Reddy told the Kalgoorlie Miner. “The offtake wasn’t there, the market wasn’t ready to have another renewable provider in the region. But the grid constraints are the principal diving factor now, which is really driving this project.”

The newspaper said the proposal has the support of the Goldfields Esperance Development Commission, Regional Development Australia Goldfields Esperance, the WA Government’s Department of Finance and the Kalgoorlie-Boulder Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

However, Exergy has not built any pilot or demonstration projects to date, and it is not clear exactly what technology the company proposes to use.

SolarReserve, another company to express interest in Mungari, has its own solar thermal power plant due to come online in the US in the next few months.

solar reserve copy

The company’s 110MW Crescent Dunes project  (pictured above) is in the final stage of commission, and will provide base load power to Las Vegas between the hours of noon and midnight.  It will be the largest molten salt concentrating power project in the world once commissioned.

The company also recently signed a contract to build a similar plant in South Africa, along with Saudi Arabian project developer ACWA Power. It is one of a number of companies talking to Alinta about a possible 50MW solar tower plus storage facility at Port Augusta, to replace one of the ageing coal fired generators.

The company’s director of development Australia Daniel Thompson, who has also been targeting the mining industry, and has expressed interest in the upcoming ACT auction on next generation solar, told the paper that the Mungari project makes a lot of sense, but was only one of a number of prospective sites in the area.

“Kalgoorlie is a very prospective area for us, with an excellent solar resource, a number of large industrial mining loads nearby, and it’s at the end of the power network which is at capacity,” Thompson told the paper. But he underlined to RenewEconomy that it was a long term prospect.

A separate 50MW solar PV plant at Mungari has been proposed previously, although the project rights have since been sold by Investec Bank to French-owned Neoen, along with a solar PV plant proposal near Geraldton.

Neoen last week teamed up with former Investec executives now at Megawatt Capital to win a tender from the ACT government to develop a 100MW wind farm at Hornsdale in South Australia.


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  1. barrie harrop 5 years ago

    Hoping no rare birds are in the area,as they will get fried.

    • Catprog 5 years ago

      Seem strange though that we had this type operational overseas for years without having issues with birds.

        • Catprog 5 years ago

          My point is why have all the other ones not run into this problem

          • barrie harrop 5 years ago

            Would you be happy once the whole wild bird population is wiped out in this region?
            “A giant solar-power project officially opening this week in the California desert
            is the first of its kind, and may be among the last, in part because of growing
            evidence that the technology it uses is killing birds.”


          • Catprog 5 years ago

            What I want to know is why this one is having issues when none of the others are.

          • barrie harrop 5 years ago

            Where is your evidence? expect there is none.

          • Catprog 5 years ago

            Exactly , every other concentrated solar plant has no evidence of bird death. BrightSource Energy’s is the only one that has any evidence of bird death. What I want to know is why this one is the only one that causes this.

          • barrie harrop 5 years ago

            Some weekend reading for you.
            “Robert Pitz-Paal, co-director of the Institute of Solar Research at the German Aerospace Center (DLR), explained how streamers materialize: Tracked mirrors redirecting the sun to a focal point act “like a big lens.””If the birds enter very close to the focal point of this heliostat field, they get hit by very intensified solar radiation, by a factor of 500 or so,” Pitz-Paal
            told DW. “If they stay there for a couple of seconds, the heat is so immense that they are probably going to die,” he said.”


          • Catprog 5 years ago

            I know the theory. But is also the same but does not seem to have the same problem. What makes the
            Ivanpah Solar Power Facility different that causes the problem?

          • barrie harrop 5 years ago

            Please do not bet your house on wikipedia info.

          • Catprog 5 years ago

            I have not been able to find any info on any site about birds at any other solar tower.

          • Colin 5 years ago

            Guys – plenty of articles that talk about the danger to birds. For example:


            However, in context, solar power plants are not actually a big killer. If we are serious about saving birds from death then we need to ban cars, cats, buildings, airplanes etc…


            Even The Australian felt the need to put the number of bird deaths in context:


          • Catprog 5 years ago

            And even then it is only one tower that is causing the problem anyway. I cannot find any information about the other ones causing bird deaths.

          • Chris Fraser 5 years ago

            The real bird killers are unwanted feral cats, lurking in the sandhills.

          • barrie harrop 5 years ago

            Some scary bedside reading for you.

            “The Associated Press reported last week on “streamers” at BrightSource Energy’s concentrated solar plant — a futuristic-looking facility that gamers pass as they drive through the desert between Las Vegas and Los Angeles. That’sthe name given to birds as their feathers ignite, mid-air, after flying through a concentrated beam of sunlight. Such hapless birds can be burned to death,killed by brute force when they crash to the ground, or eaten a predator swoops in to claim their maimed body. These are just some of the ways that large solarplants can kill birds. It’s not known how many birds are being felled by the groundswell of such facilities, but the numbers are high enough to concern bird and conservation groups — regardless of the environmental benefits of solar power.”


          • john 5 years ago

            mate giving a link the WSJ is hardly a credible source

      • SunGod 5 years ago

        Quite right. And very noticeable how he’s avoiding the questions you’ve asked him about this. Alarm bells are ringing.

        • Catprog 5 years ago

          The thing is, I believe him about the tower in question. But only that particular tower.

  2. Ken Fabian 5 years ago

    And if the money from Direct Action goes predominately to projects that assist the mineral resources sector – the same mining companies who most strongly and consistently oppose action on climate – then that would surely amuse and delight the scheme’s chief climate science denying and environmentalist hating architects, as well as increase the profitability and prospects of the very sector that needs constraining if we are to avoid the worst consequences of our energy choices. It works as a kind of payback for a Senate that failed to vote down Direct Action (as I believe Abbott and team truly intended, expected, hoped for and would have savoured, but strictly in private) and the pleasure derived must take some of the sting out of being ‘forced’ by eco-fascists to pretend for public consumption that they care and that they have not rejected all that expert advice.

    Sorry if my cynicism is on display but the level of deceit and dishonesty and petty vindictiveness our current government has engaged in on the energy/emissions/climate conundrum appears to know no bounds.

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