Large-scale solar energy developer, SolarReserve, has announced its intention to expand operations into the Australian market, opening an office in Perth, Western Australia.
The company, which develops concentrating solar power (CSP) with solar thermal energy storage as well as PV plants, has said that its operations in Australia will emphasise “opportunities in the off-grid mining sector”.
SolarReserve identified that as remote mining areas in Australia often enjoy the highest levels of solar irradiance in the country, there could be an opportunity to work with the mining industry, which is by nature energy intensive. Energy costs for mines impact competitiveness greatly, especially when reliant on unstable fossil fuel prices. SolarReserve said that shifting to solar energy resources, would allow mine operators and owners to reduce fuel costs and uncertainty. Many of the mines in Western Australia – of which there are more than 1,000 – are currently run on diesel.
“In Australia, the best solar resources are commonly found in remote areas where mines operate, presenting the off-grid mining sector with a substantial opportunity to offset the high price of electricity generation in these remote locations with a solar energy alternative,” said chief executive Kevin Smith.
Headquartered in California, SolarReserve is currently developing over 5GW of capacity worldwide including projects in the US, South America, northern Africa and the Middle East, South Africa and southern Europe. The company’s project portfolio includes three large-scale PV plants under construction in South Africa, totalling 246MW, built for a combined capital cost of US$820 million and scheduled for completion next year.
SolarReserve’s solar thermal plants utilise molten salt energy storage technology, capable of delivering baseload electricity. For example, the company’s 110MW Crescent Dunes project in Nevada, USA, which is under construction, will combine CSP technology with 10 hours of energy storage. The plant is the first in the world to feature commercial scale molten salt energy storage technology. The CSP technology can be coupled with PV.