Australia’s First Commercial Scale Concentrated Solar Power Plant Makes Progress

Plans to build Australia’s first commercial scale concentrated solar power plant in Port Augusta have taken a step forward with a new partnership. Vast has partnered with global design and manufacturing firm Contratos y Diseños Industriales (CYD) to facilitate early design work on its VS1 project, a 30MW/288MWh plant in South Australia.

CYD will begin early design work using a virtual model to simulate the construction and operation of the project’s thermal energy storage tanks that contain molten salt. This innovative approach will help identify and mitigate any problems while optimizing tank design and performance before installation. Vast and CYD have been collaborating on the development of new thermal storage tank designs for the VS1 project.

Vast’s CSP technology, demonstrated at a pilot plant in Jemalong, differs from others by utilizing modular arrays of solar towers and receivers to capture and store energy from the sun for electricity or heat. The Vast technology uses sodium as a heat transfer fluid and claims improved system efficiency, reducing costs.

The progress at VS1 follows the appointment of Worley’s Advisian in June to complete basic engineering and front-end engineering design. The VS1 project is located on the same piece of land as the ill-fated Aurora project, which was abandoned due to lack of funding. Vast needs to secure sufficient funds to cover the $203 million cost of the VS1 plant, but has received a $65 million grant from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA). Additionally, Vast has secured a $40 million pledge from ARENA and Germany for a proposed solar methanol facility and hydrogen electrolyser alongside the VS1 plant.

The partnership between Vast and CYD is breaking new ground in the CSP industry by implementing learnings at an early stage to ensure optimal performance of thermal energy storage systems. The VS1 project is expected to be operational by 2024.