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Australia green-lights molten salt energy storage project

solar thermal array

The Australian government has given the go-ahead for a 150MW solar thermal project with an integrated 1,100MWh molten salt energy storage capability.

The Aurora solar energy project in Port Augusta, South Australia will use thousands of tracking mirrors called heliostats across a an area of more than 10km2 to reflect sunlight onto a single point to heat up and liquefy the salt. The molten salt is then used to heat water to produce steam and produce electricity. Solar Reserve, the company behind the new power station, said salt is an ideal medium because it maintains a wider temperature range in a liquid state allowing the system to operate at lower pressures.

The salt can also be used to store energy for up to eight hours, releasing it back to the grid when needed.

The project will be the largest of its kind in the world.

“SolarReserve’s energy storage technology is an excellent fit for the South Australian electricity system” said Solar Reserve chief executive Kevin Smith. “Aurora will provide much needed capacity and firm energy delivery into the South Australian market to reduce price volatility.

“SolarReserve looks forward to continuing to work with the South Australian government and stakeholders, including the Port Augusta community where the project is located, to support Federal and State renewable energy targets, stimulate long-term economic development, and create new jobs and businesses.”

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