44MW Solar Thermal Booster Announced in Australia, World’s Largest

Along with an assortment of pouched mammals and Vegemite sandwiches, the Land Down Under will soon have the unique distinction of the world’s largest solar booster connected to an existing coal-fired power plant. As announced today by the Queensland government and CS Energy, AREVA Solar will begin construction of the 44MW solar field this coming summer at the 750MW Kogan Creek coal-fired plant, with the solar plant feeding superheated steam into the coal plant’s power block beginning in 2013. This project represents the largest deployment of AREVA’s Compact Linear Fresnel Reflector (CLFR) solar thermal technology in the world.

Why wed solar steam to coal?

CS Energy Chief Executive David Brown gives an answer:

“The Kogan Creek Solar Boost Project will generate additional electricity to help meet Queensland’s growing energy demand. By using energy from the sun with AREVA’s solar booster application, we will make the coal-fired plant more fuel-efficient and reduce its greenhouse intensity – avoiding the production of 35,600 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions annually.”

AREVA Solar CEO Bill Gallo describes why the company’s proven CLFR technology was selected for this ground-breaking project:

“The innovative solar project will use AREVA’s CLFR superheated solar steam technology to boost the power station’s steam generation system, reliably increasing its electrical output and fuel efficiency. This will be achieved by supplying additional steam to the power station’s turbine, supplementing the conventional coal-fired steam generation process. The technology uses heat from the sun to convert water to steam, with zero emissions.

“AREVA Solar’s CLFR technology is water-conservative and the most land-efficient renewable energy technology available. The solar steam generators and accompanying system are expected to occupy approximately 75 acres of land within the current boundaries of the CS Energy site.”

Generating more power without more emissions is a key benefit of AREVA’s low carbon energy technology portfolio. This type of solar thermal project – for which AREVA Solar has seen growing demand from utilities in Australia, United States and around the world – is a tangible example of how AREVA is leading efforts to achieve a clean energy future.

  • Nichol

    Is there a good argument to combine solar with an existing coal power plant? Is the combination any better than having two separate plants: one solar, one coal?

    Or could it be a rational strategy for continuous transformation to renewable generation of electricity?

    Or or this just a new greenwashing technique, ‘cleaning’ a coal plant by adding some solar power in the mix?

    As I don’t see arguments given for the first two, it smells like greenwashing to me.

    • Anonymous

      You bring up a good question—that also has a good answer.

      AREVA Solar’s superheated steam technology can be used in three
      configurations: 1. Stand-alone solar power plant generating 50+
      megawatts of power, 2. Steam plant generating steam for industrial or
      manufacturing processes, 3. Solar booster plant generating 20-50
      megawatts of power.

      In its solar booster application connected to a fossil-fuel power plant,
      AREVA’s effective technology does one of two things: 1. Add significant
      power to the plant’s output without increasing carbon emissions, 2.
      Replace a segment of the plant’s output with solar power and reduce
      fossil-fuel use and emissions.

      Since transitioning from fossil-fuel power sources to clean energy
      sources may take decades (as the demand for power skyrockets), the solar
      booster concept is an immediate way (18- to 24-month construction) to
      help mitigate existing carbon emissions in a cost-effective manner.