Concentrated solar thermalProject Integrating Concentrating Solar Thermal Energy
This report shares lessons related to the final stages of the project. The project has established a path to progressively integrate three complementary concentrating solar thermal (CST) energy technologies.
The project will establish a path to progressively integrate three complementary concentrating solar thermal (CST) energy technologies into the current energy-intensive Bayer Process, which produces calcined alumina from bauxite with natural gas as the energy source. Alumina production, with an annual production of approximately 18 million tonnes, is the largest high temperature mineral processing industry in Australia. In 2020, more than $7 billion in revenue for Australia was contributed by its exports, rendering Australia the second largest global exporter. Approximately 14 million tonnes of CO2 is released annually from the alumina refineries, corresponding to 24% of Australia’s Scope manufacturing carbon emissions, all of which typically burn natural gas to drive the process. Adding solar energy to this process has potential to offer significant benefits to Australia by decreasing fuel consumption (the cost of which is anticipated to rise) and by opening up access to new markets for low-carbon, high value products. However, its technical and economic feasibility for this application is not well understood. Hence project has further developed and evaluated three classes of hybrid technologies, considering both the low and high temperature processes, with potential to enable a 29% − 45% solar share. In doing so, we will ensure that continuous operation can be maintained, and that only minimal changes would need to be made to the refinery process, hence minimising the risk to industry in introducing a new technology like this.