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Alinta seeks to replace coal with solar thermal


Alinta Energy, owner of coal and gas generation assets, is investigating the feasibility of constructing a solar thermal power plant near the site of its off-line coal assets in Port Augusta, South Australia.

Alinta owns a large capacity of coal assets in Port Augusta that fall within its Flinders Generation Division. These include the 544MW Northern Power Station and the 240MW Playford Power Station. Alinta has recently stated that due to adverse market conditions, Northern will only operate in peak months of October to March from 2012 onwards. It has also stated that Playford will not run at anytime during the year, unless periods of peak demand require further supply. Alinta had hoped that Playford would receive compensation to close under the now-defunct contract for closure policy component of the carbon pricing mechanism and the Federal Government’s decision not to go ahead with compensation for coal generators could be construed as pushing Alinta further into the realm of solar thermal.

To be located within the Flinders site in Port Augusta, the solar thermal project would be an Australian first and be a game changer in the move towards reducing the carbon intensity of the NEM. Alinta sees it as a way of continuing the life of the Flinders site by replacing the off-line coal generation with 50MW of clean energy.

Solar Thermal mimics the steam-driven turbines of a coal or gas generator, although in this renewable technology the sun’s energy is reflected onto a central point and that concentrated heat takes the place of fossil fuels as a heating fuel.

While Alinta has long publicized their intention to construct Australia’s first solar thermal plant, it is not prepared to foot the entire $200 million construction bill and is asking for $65million in addition capital from the Federal Government. It is thought that this will provide up to 20 years of renewable energy

Full a full explanation of Concentrating Solar Thermal, please see our Green Technology page here