Engineers Are Building the World’s Largest Single-Tower Solar Thermal Plant
South Australia has announced plans to construct the world's largest single-tower solar thermal power plant in Port Augusta. The plant will use technology developed by SolarReserve to store energy in molten salt, giving it the ability to operate 24 hours a day.
SUN AND SALT
Arrays of mirrors will focus solar energy onto a central tower, where salt will be superheated into molten and used to store that energy as heat. The transition of solar heat into the molten salt will provide 1,100 megawatts of energy which can be stored for up to eight hours at full energy capacity. This will allow the facility to generate electricity during the night as well as during the day when sunlight is shining down.
Aurora is projected to have an output that will be able to service 90,000 homes and supply energy to around five percent of South Australia’s total energy needs. It’s expected to cost upwards of $650 million to build and will be completed by 2020.
Solar is making real inroads into supplying the world with energy as Morocco is currently building the world’s largest traditional solar plant and China’s huge floating solar power plant is charging ahead, and India’s and one of India’s solar farms can already power 150,000 homes.
Even with the scale of solar reducing the cost of production, a main argument against renewable energy sources has been their high cost when compared to fossil fuels.
It is now cheaper to build a solar plant than some fossil fuel plants and soon will be even cheaper than coal.
As new technologies come on line for even more efficient and less expensive solar panels, we can expect to see the shift to solar happening even faster in the future increase jobs and installation options around the world.
This increased affordability will help the world meet the goals of the Paris Agreement whether or not the US and other countries directly participate and stem the damage we’ve done to the planet through the use of fossil fuels.