Construction of a world-leading, concentrated solar power (CSP) tower plant that will supply electricity, heat and desalinated seawater to grow tomatoes in the Australian desert has been completed in South Australia.
Sunndrop Farms marked the completion of construction and the beginning of full operations at their world-first 20-hectare solar desalination farm in Port Augusta on Friday, with an official opening celebration.
The opening of the $200 million state-of-the-art solar thermal development is a fillip for Port Augusta, which last week took the brunt of 83km/h winds that accompanied the one-in-50-year storm that wreaked havoc in South Australia.
And the recent closure of the Port Augusta’s coal-fired power station – the state’s last in operation, that had been running since the 1960s – puts the region at the forefront of a major industrial and economic transformation.
The Sundrop tomato farm – which has generated jobs for around 175 people – is the first commercial scale facility of its calibre in the world, using sunlight and seawater to grow 15 million kg of truss tomatoes a year that will be sold exclusively through Coles supermarkets via a 10-year offtake agreement.
The greenhouses will also produce more than 450,000m3 of freshwater per year – equivalent to 180 Olympic size swimming pools – and displace the use of more than 2 million litres of diesel per year.
The technology was developed by Danish renewables outfit Aalborg, who began construction of the custom built concentrated solar power tower system – including a a 51,500m² solar field consisting of more than 23,000 heliostats – for Sundrop in October 2015. The 127 metre solar tower went up in March.
Press link for more: Sophie Vorrath