Danish renewable energy specialist, Aalborg CSP A/S, is among the top four finalists competing for the prestigious Clean Energy Council’s Innovation Award 2018, having been shortlisted for the development of Australia’s first concentrated solar power (CSP) facility that supports desert-farming operations.
The Clean Energy Council Awards recognise excellence in the renewable energy sector in the fields of innovation, business community engagement and outstanding contribution. According to the judges, the entries were of the highest calibre this year, showing that the industry is going from strength to strength.
The ground-breaking CSP plant in Port Augusta has been selected within the ‘Innovation Award’ category as a clear demonstration of its positive impact on Australia’s clean energy industry. Aalborg CSP’s pioneering solar project is based on concentrated solar power (CSP) technology and is the first such plant in Australia, and in the whole world, to support horticultural activities at commercial scale. In this case, more than 17,000 tons of tomatoes are produced annually in greenhouses covering 200,000 square metres located in a remote area. This accounts for approximately 15 percent of Australia’s entire tomato market.
The projects uniqueness lies in the fact that it applies an Integrated Energy System design and thereby enables maximum utilisation of natural resources. Typically, CSP plants in the world produce a single energy output (electricity) and produce a massive amount of waste heat. In contrast, the Integrated Energy System, harvests the sun in the most efficient way and achieves up to 95 percent thermal efficiency by utilising the waste heat and producing multiple energy streams, such as heat, electricity and fresh water.
More than 23,000 heliostats (computer-controlled mirrors) installed in the desert ground collect the sun’s rays and reflect them onto the top of a 127 metre solar tower. Here, the concentration of energy generates high temperatures which is then used to heat the greenhouses in wintertime and on cold summer nights, to provide fresh water by desalinating seawater drawn from the nearby Spencer Gulf (5 kilometres from the site) and to periodically run a steam turbine to produce electricity.
“We are honoured to be considered among those top clean energy firms that paves the way towards Australia’s green energy transition” said Jes Donneborg, Executive Vice President of Aalborg CSP A/S.