Lake Cargelligo Solar Thermal Plant

Importance of solar energy

• Solar power is expected to have the greatest growth of many renewable energy sources.
• Solar power is better able to match demand profile.
• Solar power is considered to have lower environmental impact.
• Solar technology matches the geography of many of the developing economies and is suitable for 50% of the globe.

Why is this solar technology so different?

The key of difference between this new technology and other solar power generation is the ability to store thermal energy at the point of collection and hold it before it is converted into electricity.
The electricity generation system can, be required, run for 24 hours a day and also provide solar power on cloudy days.
The solar energy generation facility will comprise a series of solar reflectors called heliostats which track the sun continuously and concentrate the beams of solar energy into a receiver cavity at the base of the storage block sitting on the top of the small towers.
The block contains heat exchangers through which water is passed to generate steam and electricity using ordinary steam turbine generators.

The technology

• Solar energy is collected by tracking heliostats focusing the sun’s rays directly into the storage boiler unit.
• The thermal energy is stored in high purity graphite inside the unit.
• The thermal energy is turned into electricity on demand by passing water through tubes embedded in the graphite to make steam.
• The steam drives a turbine to generate electricity.
• The storage system using graphite contains no toxic or hazardous materials and producers no emissions or wastes.

Key features

• Environmentally friendly, no caustic or corrosive components and no harmful emissions.
• Simple to operate and maintain.
• High energy density – it stores a lot of energy.
• Can be located close to energy demand.
• Relatively low cost.

The project

• The lake Cargelligo solar thermal plant will demonstrate unique Australian technology to the world.
• Mirrors tracking the sun will concentrate the sun’s energy into the solar energy storage.
• The solar energy will be stored as heat and used to make steam.
• The energy will be extracted when required by passing water through the storage boiler to make steam.
• The steam will then be used to generate electricity.

Project Components

• 8 solar energy storage boilers
• 8 20m towers (comet tank stands)
• 8 heliostat fields, approximately 100 in each field
• 3 MWe steam turbine and generator (Alstom)
• Control system
• Grid connection
• Civil works
The project has used many local contractors and suppliers as possible. The project has employed more than 25 local people during various stages of construction to date.
The project is expected to be commissioned in the first quarter of 2010.