SolarReserve has received development approval for its Aurora Solar Energy Project, a key milestone required to build the landmark 150MW solar thermal power station 30km north of Port Augusta.

The approval process examined a range of critical elements including environmental, community and social impacts of the Aurora project, the company says, which were assessed by South Australian Government agencies.

The approval enables SolarReserve to construct the Aurora project, provided the construction complies with the submitted plans and any conditions outlined in the Development Approval.

“It’s fantastic that SolarReserve has received development approval to move forward with this world-leading project that will deliver clean, dispatchable renewable energy to supply our electrified rail, hospitals, schools and other major government buildings,” said South Australia’s Acting Energy Minister Chris Picton.

“This approval triggers an investment of about $650 million, will create a total of about 700 construction and ongoing jobs in Port Augusta and will add new competition to the South Australian market, putting downward pressure on power prices.”

“This important milestone is a significant step in the development of the Aurora solar thermal power station, which will bring SolarReserve’s world-leading clean power generation technology to South Australia,” said SolarReserve CEO Kevin Smith.

“The remarkable story of the transition of Port Augusta from coal to renewable energy – which won a competitive tender against fossil fuel – is also a preview of the future of power generation around the world.”

Aurora’s massive 1,100MWh of storage will provide eight hours of full load power after dark. This means that from storage (its salt battery) alone, Aurora will be capable of powering South Australia far in excess of state government buildings, the equivalent of over 230,000 homes for eight hours, or around 35% of all of the households in South Australia.

The project will be a valuable participant in the state energy market at times of peak demand when the sun is down and the wind isn’t blowing.