Sunday, 21 October 2012 06:00

WA's Mid West to host new solar-thermal power project

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Solarstar MidWestSolar thermal in action in the Californian desert. Image: International RiversA WEST Australian country town is set to receive a new low-emissions technology installation, following the announcement of a solar-thermal power facility to be built in the Mid West.

Solastor, in consortium with Carbon Reduction Ventures, plans to build a 1.5 megawatt grid-connected concentrated thermal power station near Morawa.   Incorporating heat storage technology, the project will involve the construction of a concentrated solar power (CSP) generation facility on approximately 8 hectares of land just south of the Mid West town.

Carbon Reduction Venture’s Robert Coltrona says rural WA will provide excellent solar radiation, with the project connected to the South West Interconnected System (SWIS).  

“Morawa is a town on the cusp of significant growth, and has recently been given status as a regional SuperTown. But being on the fringe of the power grid, there’s a significant need to improve power reliability to consolidate on this growth opportunity,” he says.

Mr Coltrona says the North Midlands Solar Thermal Power Project (NMSTPP) will bring state of the art carbon reduction technology to the Mid West.

“The project will initially comprise 9 modules and each module consists of an energy storage tower containing the thermal storage medium graphite and around 100 highly reflective toroidal heliostats,” he says.

“These [heliostats] direct and concentrate heat energy from sunlight to a focal point inside the proprietary heat storage block.

“The plant will be grid connected and use high temperature steam to drive a 1.5MW Organic Rankine Cycle turbine and be capable of storing over 28MW hours of energy storage.”

The project recently received a boost when it was awarded over $3.7 million in LEED funding, aimed at stimulating new low emissions energy projects in Perth, the Mid West and the Wheatbelt.

Mr Coltrona says the LEED fund announcement is a significant enabling step in providing confidence for completing the capital raising for the project.

“The finances from LEED will contribute to the project, from completing the detailed design work on the plant through each stage of construction of the project,” he says.  

 Mr Coltrona says a later project will look at how the plant could potentially act as a “standby generator” for the surrounding area, and will target an improvement in the reliability of power supply for the community and reduce power outages for local communities.  

The project is expected to be completed by 2014.

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