US-based solar power project developer SolarReserve has scrapped its plans to build the $461m (A$650m) solar thermal power plant at Port Augusta in South Australia after failing to raise finance for the project.
The South Australian Energy Minister Dan van Holst Pellekaan said that the company has informed him about its inability to achieve financial close by the 31 May deadline set by the government for the proposed thermal power station. The deadline was initially set for 1 February 2018.
SolarReserve operates the same concept of solar thermal plant in Nevada. Instead of solar panels, the power plant uses heliostats or mirrors so that sunlight gets concentrated onto a tower that heats molten salt. This heat is then used in producing steam.
In January 2018 the developer secured approval from the Australian government for the project, which was scheduled for completion in 2020.
South Australian Energy Minister Dan van Holst Pellekaan said: “SolarReserve first notified the previous State Government of their difficulties in securing finance before the last election, and they were granted additional time.
“Since the election in March 2018, the Government has worked hard to provide every reasonable assistance to the project, including additional time, finalisation of the project lease, approval of identified engineering, procurement and construction contractors, and introduction to potential financiers and investors.”
Currently, the government has a contract with SIMEC ZEN Energy for supplying electricity until November 2020, this contract has an extension option if required.
Pellekaan added: “I have long been a supporter of developing solar thermal technology in the Upper Spencer Gulf and this has not changed, but unfortunately SolarReserve has confirmed that it cannot be the company to do this.
“I know that this news will be a concern for the local people and businesses of Port Augusta, but the region remains the focus of the growth that the Government is overseeing in the energy sector, and I remain very confident for the region’s future.”
Any company that might want to acquire the project from SolarReserve will be required to tender for the new contract.