The end of coal-fired plants could be brought forward if the maker of a proposed $1.2 billion solar thermal plant at Port Augusta, South Australia, is successful.
Australian company Solastor will make its pitch to the federal government to build the power plant, which it says would be able to supply more than 211,000 homes.
Mirrors focus the sun’s heat onto graphite receivers, where piped water is turned into steam that drives a turbine. It’s estimated the equivalent of a week’s energy could be stored in the in graphite blocks, ensuring it could provide reliable power.
Environment Minister Greg Hunt said it was a “very sophisticated and highly developed” proposal.
“[Prime Minister Turnbull] and I think it’s an incredibly exciting project,” he said.
About 600 jobs would be created in manufacturing and construction, and about 100 operational roles.
Solastor says that as Australia shifted to renewable energy, there could be a market for 400 plants.
“These plants could be used to replace the almost 20,000 megawatts of coal-fired power plants that will inevitably be phased out over the next 10 to 20 years,” it said in a statement.
“In addition to the replacement of coal, there is also a market to replace diesel generation systems such as those used in remote communities, islands and mine sites.”
The company aims to have a demonstration plant running by the end of the year, and the Port Augusta plant operational about 30 months after approval.
It has funding and will seek support from the federal government’s Clean Energy Finance Corporation and the Clean Energy Innovation Fund.