US solar developer SolarReserve has just signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Australian firm Heliostat SA, to partner in manufacturing and assembling heliostats and heliostat components for the 150 MW Aurora CSP project that SolarReserve is developing in Port Augusta.
Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) is a thermal form of solar energy that includes integrated molten salt energy storage so it can deliver renewable power that is dispatchable 24-hours per day. This allows solar energy to operate like traditional fossil-fired and nuclear electricity generation – except the fuel is the sun which means zero emissions, zero hazardous waste, and zero dependence on fuel price volatility.
The South Australian company Heliostat SA has an interesting background as a spin-off from the former Precision Components Australia, which was historically a tier one supplier to Ford, Toyota and GM Holden. The firm has licensed the technology to commercialize and manufacture heliostats and control software designed by Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO).
Aurora’s CSP heliostats will bring 200 manufacturing jobs to South Australia
Under the MOU, Heliostat SA and SolarReserve will partner to develop the plans and processes to supply, fabricate and assemble more than 12,800 heliostat assemblies for the Aurora Solar Energy Project near Port Augusta, South Australia. SolarReserve’s SR96 heliostat will provide high performance, fully integrated with its proprietary molten salt receiver and controls system
Close to 200 jobs could be created in South Australia solely as a result of a deal between Heliostat SA and SolarReserve for the Aurora project, including over 115 unique skilled labor positions related to manufacturing of steel components and heliostat assemblies. The two companies are working together to complete the final agreement, which includes achieving as much local content and labour as possible.
Heliostats are the large tracking mirrors in a solar thermal power station, which follow the sun throughout the day and precisely reflect and concentrate sunlight onto a receiver. (How it works) Each of the assemblies includes 96 square meters of glass, plus steel supports and electric drives, resulting in a field of mirrors with more than a million square meters of surface area.
“We’re excited to have formed a long-term partnership with Heliostat SA and look forward to teaming up with them to bring manufacturing of our world-class heliostats to South Australian workers,” said Kevin Smith, Chief Executive Officer of SolarReserve, which has more than $1.8 billion of utility-scale solar projects operating globally, between PV and CSP. “SolarReserve is committed to supporting South Australia’s goals which will attract investment, create South Australian jobs and build an exciting and growing new industry.”
“Signing the MOU marks a significant step forward in the partnership between our companies,” said David Linder-Patton, Heliostat SA’s Chief Executive Officer. “The team at Heliostat SA are really looking forward to adapting the low-cost manufacturing techniques learned from more than 20 years of automotive knowhow into the manufacture and assembly of the SR96. Heliostat SA plans to exploit our supply chain knowledge across the SR96 program, to ensure a very high local South Australian content is achieved.”
Investing in South Australia’s Solar Energy Future
The balance of construction of the Port Augusta is anticipated to create an additional 650 full-time construction jobs on site, and more than 4,000 direct, indirect and related jobs in the region.
Yet Aurora is part of a much bigger picture for South Australia. SolarReserve hopes to build six solar thermal projects in the State over the next ten years, with their Australian headquarters in Adelaide serving as the development hub. South Australian manufacturing will be well positioned to support these future projects.
Heliostat SA has developed a single axis tracking and framing systems for utility-scale solar farms, utilizing automation and low cost manufacturing techniques developed for the auto industry. The addition of PV could broaden the scope of Heliostat SA’s manufacturing supply to include PV racking systems.
Aurora is being developed with the option to add solar PV technology in order to maximize electricity generation from the CSP facility during peak demand periods, as well as meet the station’s own electricity needs.
“The Aurora project along with SolarReserve’s future investment in the state will develop a supply chain and local manufacturing expertise that can be leveraged across the broader region, create thousands of jobs for South Australians, and bring about a new age in clean, reliable and affordable energy,” said Tom Georgis, SolarReserve’s Senior Vice President of Development.