Solar and gas - the perfect fit ?
The Business Spectator has an article on combined solar thermal and gas (natural and/or coal seam) fired power stations (the technically unambitious option those who don't want to pay for in-built energy storage go for - however it's still streets ahead of more coal fired power or regular gas), being proposed for Queensland and New South Wales - Solar and gas are the perfect fit.
Brisbane-based ERM Power, Australia’s largest private electricity generator, is making no secret of its desire to be the first in this race. It is interested in building a solar/gas hybrid plant at its planned Wellington power station in New South Wales or at its third Braemar station in central Queensland, preferably both, working with giant global engineering business Siemens as the technology provider.
The concept is simple: use the solar generation when the sun’s available and switch to gas as back-up when it isn’t.
New South Wales director Andy Pittlik says the Wellington project, which ERM Power sees as the next cab off the rank in its building program after constructing four other gas plants in the past 18 months with 1,740 MW capacity, will also use new open-cycle technology that produces more power while burning less fuel.
Managing director Phillip St Baker, son of founder and chairman Trevor, claims the company is on track to build about a third of Australia’s new generating capacity in the next five years after contributing half of new construction in the past five.
He says the biggest drawback to solar thermal power production is the “very, very expensive” cost of storing electricity for the 12 hours a day the sun doesn’t shine. “That’s why we want to integrate the technologies to deliver affordable, reliable power 24 hours a day – and, when you integrate solar and gas, you can make use of common infrastructure such as the boiler and the steam turbine, too.”
St Baker says the company is also looking at building a 900 kilometre gas pipeline to link its now-commissioned Braemar 2 peaking plant on Queensland’s Darling Downs with the proposed Wellington development, near Dubbo. This $500 million link would interconnect coal seam gas resources with conventional gas supply from Victoria.
Cross posted from Peak Energy.