A new proposal by US solar and thermal storage technology company SolarReserve would see a 110MW Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) plant built near South Australia’s Port Augusta, 200 miles north of the provincial capital of Adelaide. The plant would supply Port Augusta and neighboring cities with reliable solar power and help them to distance themselves from the coal-powered plants that still supply most of the country with electricity.
Solar power is a great solution for the world’s increasing energy demand: it’s clean, reliable, and becoming more and more efficient and affordable as the technology improves. Photovoltaic panels are so widespread now that it’s difficult to find a suburban street without any rooftop PV panels glinting in the sun.
The ACT government’s plans; the most ambitious in Australia, are to completely divest from fossil fuels and fully decarbonise the territory’s electricity system.
Canberra’s ambitious 100% renewable plan has very high support from Australians, according to researcher and campaigner Tom Swann.
Australia is sited within the “Roaring Fourties” the near constant high winds that whip around the ocean down under near the south pole, circling Antarctica. These predictable winds create the potential for a 40% capacity factor for wind in that path – most of it wasted (from an energy capture point of view – over empty oceans. Some of the steadiest and highest winds on the globe usually cross continental Australia, as you can see in real time, the current winds circling around Antarctica in the Southern hemisphere.
This world-leading adoption rate had several causes; Australia’s initially very high solar subsidies and feed in tariff rates — back when the Australian government was a model for the world under its previous much more climate-friendly PMs; Kevin Rudd and then Julia Gillard.
These high solar subsidies and tariffs were coupled with extremely expensive grid power, and all against a backdrop of rapidly dropping solar prices. In 2008, Aussies paid $12 AUD per watt installed, but by 2013 that had already dropped to $2.5AUD.