In the recent federal budget the coalition government announced that it would provide $110 million dollars’ worth of concessional loans to a solar and molten salt storage project in Port Augusta, South Australia.
Australia currently has one solar thermal pilot plant run by Vast solar and located near Forbes in NSW. This is a ‘tower’ deign solar plant. The Sun's heat is used to melt salt, which is then used to heat up water to produce steam to drive a turbine to generate electricity. The molten salt can store heat so that the generator can run overnight.
Last year, scientists from ANU set a world record for the most efficient solar thermal dish generating steam that could be used for power station.
The first stage of world’s largest solar thermal plant was switched on in Morocco in 2016. It is a ‘trough’ design plant. When completed in 2018 it will cover over 6000 acres.
You can find out more about concentrated solar thermal power on the Clean Energy Council website. It explains the different designs for types of solar thermal generators including ‘linear fresnel’, ‘tower’, ‘dish’ and ‘trough’. You can also download a 3-page fact sheet from this page.
Nova has also published a unit of work on concentrating solar thermal power.