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Why is Australia Building An Expensive Solar Thermal Power Even As PV Solar Plus Storage Goes Down To 3.6 cents

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Solar Thermal – Australia

The South Australian government has given an approval for $650 million solar thermal plant to be built by USA company SolarResevere. This does not make any sense in my view, given that PV solar prices have touched new all times low with lithium battery storage also showing rapidly declining prices. This means that solar plus storage will become competitive with large-scale fossil fuel plants in a few years.

On the other hand, Australia will be spending a prodigious amount of money in building only 150 MW of power capacity. While a 150 MW PV solar capacity can be built for around $150 million these days, the solar thermal plant will cost more than 4x times. This is a gross waste of taxpayers’ money to build a technology that is not getting traction anywhere else in the world. Even the domestic market of SolarReserve has rejected this technology with almost all the new solar energy plants being built using the standard crystalline silicon PV technology. Even some of the solar thermal plants that were planned to be built in the USA earlier were abandoned and converted to solar PV plants.

Solar thermal plant

Also, read Why is Australia Wasting Money On A $650 Million+ Solar Plant Using A Failed Technology?

The solar thermal plant will also rely on a substantial federal loan for its development as the capital cost is quite high. The Australian power market is one of the most inefficient in the world with Australian consumers paying extremely high prices for electricity despite being blessed with huge and cheap resources of both renewable and fossil fuels. The wasteful market structure with a utility oligopoly has led to a situation where Australians will see their retrial power prices increase by another 10% next year on top of a 90% increase over the last decade. This solar thermal power plant will be further adding to the overall costs.

A recent auction by US utility Xcel found extremely cheap prices for solar plus storage and wind plus storage for power plants to come online by 2022. Factoring in declining prices of both solar energy and storage, a median price of just 3.6 cents was bid for new projects. Even wind plus storage costs were extremely cheap. Instead of allowing a solar thermal plant, the South Australian government should ask Xcel to conduct a similar auction in Australia. This will save the Australian consumers, hundreds of millions of dollars in costs.

“Wind came in lowest, at $18.10 per megawatt-hour. It was followed by combined wind and solar, at $19.90; then wind with battery storage, at $21; PV alone, at $29.50; then wind, solar and battery storage, at $30.60.

Wind also came out ahead in terms of generation volume, accounting for more than 42 gigawatts of bid proposals and 17 gigawatts of projects, compared to PV’s nearly 30 gigawatts of bids and 13+ gigawatts of project capacity.

PV was, nevertheless, the preferred option in terms of number of projects. Standalone solar was proposed in 152 bids and 75 projects. A further 87 bids and 59 projects were for solar-plus-storage. It remains to be see how many, if any, will be chosen.”

Source: Green Tech Media


Sneha Shah

I am Sneha, the Editor-in-chief for the Blog. We would be glad to receive suggestions, inputs & comments on GWI from you guys to keep it going! You can contact me for consultancy/trade inquires by writing an email to

One Response so far | Have Your Say!

  1. jcbidani sumeetbidani

    solar thermal is the ultimate practical and the existing thermal power plants will use sullementary heat from the sun reducing coal consumption of existing coal based power plants