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The Turnbull Government, through the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), has taken the next step in the development of a solar thermal plant at Port Augusta in South Australia.

ARENA has today requested information from prospective industry participants on the costs and benefits of Concentrated Solar Thermal (CST).

This information will help ARENA and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) to determine the scope and focus of government assistance for the deployment of CST in Australia.

The call follows the Turnbull Government’s commitment in the Budget to make up to $110 million available for an equity investment to accelerate and secure delivery of a CST plant at Port Augusta.

The plan for a CST plant at Port Augusta, for which the Government has made its commitment clear in the Budget, has been strongly led by the local member Rowan Ramsey.

CST plants operate in a similar way to traditional fossil fuel power plants with steam spinning a conventional turbine which means they can contribute to network stability and reliability when coupled with built-in storage.

ARENA and the CEFC have a strong track record in supporting the commercialisation of emerging technologies and will use that expertise to take CST to the next level in Australia.

CST plants are being developed across the world including one which I visited with ARENA’s CEO in the Negev Desert in Israel.

The Negev Desert has a similar solar radiation profile to Port Augusta which means Australia is well placed to take the learnings from that development and apply them here.

ARENA is expected to call for funding applications for investment in a CST plant by the end of this year.

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