Cloncurry, situated in north west Queensland, Australia, 770 kilometres west of Townsville will become the state’s first totally solar powered town.
The project will be situated on a 10 hectare piece of land within the township. Unlike solar farms that utilise solar panels, the facility will comprise of fifty-four 17 meter high solar thermal towers. An estimated 8000 reflective mirrors called heliostats covering 60,000 square meters will reflect and concentrate sunlight onto the towers containing blocks made of a graphite thermal storage medium. Water is then pumped through these blocks to create steam which generates electricity via turbines.
The graphite blocks have the capacity to store the equivalent of 80,000 kWh of energy to generate electricity. The graphite continues to store heat through the night, so electricity can be generated 24 hours a day; allowing the township of 2,400 to become fully powered by solar energy. Ergon Energy will purchase the power generated to supply the Cloncurry community.
According to the project developer, Lloyd Energy Storage, all water used in the system is reclaimed and very little topping up will need to be done each year. There will also be rainwater storage tanks on site to capture runoff from buildings at the facility with a capacity to store up to 200,000 litres.
Over 100 jobs will be created during the construction period, scheduled to commence later this year. The Queensland government is contributing $7 million to the project, with the remaining $24 million coming from Lloyd Energy Storage and its financiers.