The Vast Solar Port Augusta Concentrated Solar Thermal Power Project involves the development, construction and operation of a 30 MW / 288 MWh Concentrated Solar Thermal Power (CSP) plant at Port Augusta, South Australia.
The International Energy Agency projects that over 6,000 GW of new renewable electricity generation will be required by 2040 to address increasing global net zero commitments and the retirement of fossil fuel based energy generation. Variable renewable energy (VRE) such as solar PV and wind are expected to form the majority of this growth, with an increasing focus on the need to firm supply to ensure stability of physical grid and market pricing. In the 2022 Integrated System Plan, AEMO forecasts that 2 GW of medium-depth (4-12 hour) storage is required by 2029 to address reliability needs of the NEM.
Over time, electricity grids will have a growing need for dispatchable renewable energy over increasing durations (8-16 hours) to firm the increasing proportion of intermittent VRE, meet evening peak and overnight demand and manage frequency and voltage. Additionally, dispatchable renewable energy will be required in off-grid plants that require 24/7, stable supply of low-cost electricity, while process heat from renewable energy sources will be required to decarbonise hard to abate sectors.
Vast Solar has developed its proprietary CSP technology since 2009, with potential applications for grid and off-grid dispatchable energy supply, as well as industrial process heat. ARENA has supported the development of this technology from early R&D to pilot scale operations. This project represents the next step in achieving a utility-scale deployment of a CSP plant.
Construction is expected to commence in late 2023, post completion of financing and development activities. Construction is expected to take two years, with scheduled commissioning in late 2025. Following commissioning, the CSP plant will provide:
- electricity to the National Energy Market (NEM), and
- market services such as energy arbitrage and Frequency Control Ancillary Services (FCAS).
Over the course of the project, the following knowledge sharing deliverables will be made available to the public:
- Lessons Learnt Reports – to share key lessons from the project and implications for industry.
- Development and Financial Close Report – an overview of the development phase of the project.
- Construction and Commissioning Report – an overview of the construction and commissioning phases of the project.
- Operational Reports – describing the ongoing performance of the CSP plant over two years of operation.
- Operations data repository – a monthly set of operational data accessible through a project webpage.
- Final Project Knowledge Sharing Report – to document and disseminate the project outcomes.
The project is expected to achieve the following outcomes:
- Improved technology readiness and commercial readiness of CSP technology.
- Increased value delivered by renewable energy through demonstration of CSP technology for medium duration bulk energy storage.
- Removal of barriers to renewable energy uptake through demonstration of CSP technology as an alternative medium duration bulk energy storage provider.
- Increased knowledge relevant to the cost and technical performance of CSP technology to inform subsequent medium duration bulk energy storage projects.
Local engagement in Port Augusta has been an important part of the project. Vast Solar has partnered with various local stakeholders to collaborate in the construction and planning of the project.
This project will create up to 450 jobs in the construction phase. Additionally, the Port Augusta CSP plant will enable the creation of up to 70 on-going jobs in long-term manufacturing, plant operations and maintenance roles.