Australian professional services company WorleyParsons today launched a study which the company expects will see Australia hosting the world’s largest solar energy plant within three years.
The Chief Executive Officer of WorleyParsons, Mr John Grill, said: “The world is on the cusp of a solar energy revolution and Australia is uniquely placed to sustain a solar energy industry, possessing some of the highest intensity solar resources around the globe. A solar facility a single square kilometre in size could power 50,000 households.
“Our objective is to deliver 40% of Australia’s additional renewable energy needs through solar-thermal power by 2020. We believe this is realistic and achievable based on our experience with similar solar-thermal plants around the world,” he said.
WorleyParsons’ study is locating potential sites for AST plants all over thecountry and is demonstrating the financial viability of solar-thermal power for Australia. “We already have some of Australia’s largest companies backing our study. These companies see the potential and are funding this study completely; it will not cost taxpayers a cent. The next step is to identify the first development sites and roll out the first plants shortly thereafter,” Mr Grill said.
The companies funding the study in addition to WorleyParsons are BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto, Woodside Energy, Wesfarmers Resources, Fortescue Metals Group, Verve Energy, Western Power, Water Corporation of WA and Delta Electricity.
At the present time eight solar energy plants are being constructed in Spain, Algeria and Morocco and 10 are planned or under construction in the United States. Solar-thermal projects are also planned for Israel, Mexico, Iran, China, South Africa and Egypt.
Also commenting, WorleyParsons Managing Director, EcoNomics, Mr Peter Meurs, said: “Australia has the opportunity to become a world leader in solar-thermal energy which is the linchpin to the achievement of Australia’s renewable energy targets.
“Solar-thermal’s time has come. The impact of a range of factors, including global warming and the increased price of fossil fuels, have created a sweet spot forsolar energy. In the Australian context, solar-thermal energy is well placed to compete with conventional forms of electricity generation in a post-Garnaut world,” he said.
WorleyParsons will use proven solar-thermal technology in its Advanced Solar- Thermal (AST) power stations. Parabolic mirror troughs will convert sunlight to heat and then to electricity at utility scale. The first 250MW AST facility will be the largest solar-thermal plant in the world. Solar-thermal is the technology suited to large-scale power generation. It converts sunlight to heat which is then used to generate electricity.
Mr Meurs added: “This technology is here and now. WorleyParsons has worldclass experience gained from advising clients across the entire spectrum of solar technologies around the world. AST uses proven utility scale technology founded on 20 years of successful operation in the deserts of California.
“AST complements other renewable energy sources as it generates reliable power when it is needed most – during daylight hours when demand is highest for electricity. Solar thermal also provides the option of heat storage which allows power production to continue outside sunlight hours and during cloud cover to meet peak load power demands.
“The first AST power station could be operating by 2011 with the prospect of 33 additional power stations operating by 2020. This will see more than $35 billion in investment in the industry,” he said.
About AST Each AST solar field will comprise:
an area of approximately 640ha (2.5km by 2.5km)
more than 288 km of mirrors
65,000 tonnes of steel
WorleyParsons is a leading provider of professional services to the energy,resource and complex process industries. WorleyParsons’ business has been builtby working closely with customers through long-term relationships, anticipating their needs and delivering inventive solutions through streamlined, proprietary project delivery systems. With over 32,200 employees 118 offices in 38 countries, its service capability covers the entire project lifecycle: from identifying the opportunity to the operating phase.
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