Vast Solar’s Commercial Scale Future – 30MW CSP Plant With Thermal Energy Storage
Vast Solar plans to develop a 30MW CSP Plant as a key commercial proof of concept of Vast Solar technology. A 30MW CSP Plant would be Australia’s first commercial-scale, grid connected CSP project. It will showcase Vast Solar CSP technology and Australian engineering innovation as it delivers power to the grid, providing electricity to meet the needs of up to 15 000 average homes.
The 30MW CSP Plant will represent a key stage in the culmination of Vast Solar’s CSP technology development and commercialisation. Designed to have a 25 year operating life, the project will progressively incorporate improvements garnered from ongoing research and optimisation work that will continue to be undertaken at the 1.1MW Jemalong Solar Station Pilot and research facility nearby (The CSP Pilot Plant).
Planning to realise this exciting project commenced in 2014. The proposed project is classified a State Significant Development (SSD) under the Environment Planning and Assessment Act 1979 due to the significant capital investment required to construct the facility. Vast Solar submitted the Development Application and accompanying Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to the NSW Department of Planning and the Environment in August 2016. The EIS was on public exhibition from early September 2016 until late October and members of the public, local community and NSW Government Agencies had the opportunity to make submissions.
In November 2017, Vast Solar submitted a development application to develop a 50MW PV Plant on the same site as the 30MW CSP Plant site as per 2014 application. At the same time Vast Solar consulted with the Department of Planning and Environment with regard to next steps for the CSP Plant. The development application for the CSP plant will be amended in due course and the proposed site for the CSP plant moved to an area adjacent to the 50MW Solar PV Plant site.
It is anticipated the department will re-exhibit the amended plans for the 30MW CSP Plant for public feedback in 2018.
The proposal site will be approximately 36 km west of Forbes, on Jemalong, within the Forbes Local Government Area. The 30MSW CSP project is anticipated to be to develop a 30MW CSP plant with at least four hours thermal energy storage. Key infrastructure components of the plant include:
- Fields of dual-axis tracking mirrors or ‘heliostats’ that track the sun (collectively called ‘solar arrays’).
- Thermal energy receivers, mounted on the top of 27 m towers, which capture the thermal energy reflected from the heliostats.
- Large scale thermal energy storage (usually though not universally a component of such projects), which enables the system to generate steam and produce electricity at any time, night or day.
- Heliostats grouped in ‘modules’, with each module having its own thermal energy receiver.
The above infrastructure components will come together in approximately 90 solar array modules each consisting of a 700 heliostat field and a 27 metre high tower with a thermal receiver. The completed field will have 65,000 heliostats. Other key components of the plant include a 30MW steam turbine and electricity generator, thermal energy storage tanks and a 66KV overhead transmission line.
Vast Solar’s 30MW CSP Plant will provide a much-needed reference point for the role that large-scale CSP technology can, and should, play in Australia’s energy system in the 21st century. It will deliver affordable renewable energy, add value to the regional economy and contribute to sustainable change in the nation’s energy system. And it will do so using home grown Australian technology, engineering innovation and design that delivers a plant layout that is sensitive to local cultural and conservation values.
Helping Grow The Region and the Future of Renewable Energy
It is anticipated that the construction and commissioning phase of the CSP project will take approximately 22 months, with a budget of almost $100 million.
The project will deliver environmental and economic benefits to the Forbes community and region, including the creation of some 30 jobs during the first month of construction rising to approximately 500 employees during the peak construction period (approximately nine months) as well as employing 5-20 operational and maintenance staff once the plant is fully commissioned.