Port Augusta to finally get solar thermal power – for a greenhouse  

Posted by Big Gav in , , ,

RenewEconomy reports that Port Augusta has finally landed a solar thermal power plant - Port Augusta to finally get solar thermal power – for a greenhouse.

The South Australia city of Port Augusta may be a long way from getting the solar thermal power station it craves, but it may soon host a world-leading technology that uses solar thermal energy to power a huge greenhouse to grow food in the desert.

Sundrop Farms, which has built a pilot station (we wrote about it here) featuring its unique technology that uses solar thermal energy to desalinate water for irrigation, and for heating and cooling, has secured finance from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation to build a 20 hectare commercial greenhouse around 10kms south of the city.

The massive greenhouse will feature concentrated solar power technology – most likely a parabolic trough array that will deliver around 36MWth (megawatt thermal) of energy. This will make it the largest stand alone CSP arrays in the country. The overall project cost has not been revealed but is believed to be at least $100 million. It will employ more than 200 people.

Port Augusta has been fighting to have its ageing and polluting coal-fired power stations replaced by concentrated solar thermal technologies to produce electricity.

The 20-hectare greenhouse facility will produce over 15,000 tonnes of tomatoes a year for metropolitan markets across Australia, and the company hopes it will be the fore-runner of many more projects in Australia and other desert regions, particularly in the Middle East and north Africa.

The technology is similar to that featured in another project in Qatar that RenewEconomy reported on last year. Indeed, SunDrop advised on that technology. But while that Qatari project was funded with development funds from Norway, the Port Augusta project will be funded on a commercial basis.

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