Aalborg CSP has begun construction of the world’s first integrated energy system based on CSP to satisfy multiple energy needs of Sundrop Farms’ greenhouses in the South Australian desert, and at the lowest possible cost throughout the year. In the first phase, a 51,500 m2 solar field consisting of more than 23,000 heliostats will be installed. The integrated energy system is the first large-scale CSP-based technology in the world to provide multiple energy streams (heating, fresh water and electricity) for horticultural activities.
The groundbreaking concept to grow high-value crops using seawater and sunlight as main resources originates from Sundrop Farms, which began testing its integrated system at a small scale in 2010. The company’s positive operational experience from its pilot plant encouraged the large-scale application of the technology, expanding operations to 200,000 m2 with the aim to produce over 15,000 t of fresh vegetables annually for Australian consumers.
The state-of-the-art system is based on CSP tower technology and it will be capable of heating the greenhouse in wintertime and on cold summer nights, to provide fresh water by desalinating seawater drawn from the nearby Spencer Gulf, and to periodically run a steam turbine to produce electricity.
The integrated energy system will stretch over 140,000 m2. As a first phase of the construction, Aalborg CSP, turnkey supplier of the solar plant and the power-block, has commenced installation of the solar field with the aim to set up more than 23,000 heliostats delivered by California-based company eSolar. Within a few months, the heliostats will occupy 51,500 m2 of the total area. The heliostats will collect the sun’s rays and reflect them onto the top of a 116 m high solar tower. The collected solar energy will be converted to steam which will then be used for multiple purposes, including seawater desalination, heating and electricity production.
Once commissioned in the second half of 2016, the integrated energy system will prove a new platform to address major global energy challenges. Besides offering a cost-competitive alternative to conventional energy technologies, the system will contribute to a greener future as it avoids the emission of at least 14,700 t of CO2 annually.