Reborn solar thermal and battery project seeks deal to plug in to transmission line to BHP mines

Australian clean energy technology companies Vast Renewables and 1414 Degrees say they entered into negotiations to gain access to transmission lines to connect their planned big battery and solar thermal projects.

Vast, a developer of concentrated solar power (CSP) technology, and 1414 Degrees (14D), a silicon thermal heat storage company,entered into an agreement back in mid-2022 to co-develop the Aurora Energy Projec.

Aurora was originally planned to host a 70 MW solar PV facility and a 150 MW solar tower with eight hours of molten salt storage, but its proponent, the US-based Solar Reserve, failed to get finance, collapsed and the project is now owned by Silicon Aurora, a joint venture between Vast and 14D.

The two companies plan to build a 140 MW, two hour (280 MWh) big battery at the site, along with a 30 MW CSP plant with 288 MWh of thermal storage that will be co-located with a planned solar methanol demonstration project led by Vast and German integrated energy giant Mabanaft.

14D has also obtained approval for a grid-scale pilot of its latent heat battery technology, SiBox.

The two companies on Tuesday said they have entered into a term sheet with OZ Minerals Services (OZM), a subsidiary of mining giant BHP with the goal of gaining access to the transmission line that service the Prominent Hill and Carrapateena mines.

The 275kV Hill-to-Hill Transmission Line (H2H) is wholly owned by transmission company ElectraNEt, but Oz Minerals is the sole customer, so must be part of any agreement. An independent technical review on the proposed connection will now be commissioned.

“The execution of this term sheet represents a significant milestone for the Aurora Energy Precinct and 1414 Degrees,” said Kevin Moriarty, executive chairman of 1414 Degrees.

Craig Wood, the CEO of Vast, says Australia’s electricity grid will require long duration storage that could be delivered by Vast’s CSP technology.

Joshua S. Hill is a Melbourne-based journalist who has been writing about climate change, clean technology, and electric vehicles for over 15 years. He has been reporting on electric vehicles and clean technologies for Renew Economy and The Driven since 2012. His preferred mode of transport is his feet.

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