CSP-powered solar methanol project to go ahead in Port Augusta

Thursday, 06 June, 2024

CSP-powered solar methanol project to go ahead in Port Augusta

Vast Renewables Limited (Vast) has announced that it has received planning consent for Solar Methanol 1 (SM1), a reference plant powered by concentrated solar thermal power (CSP) that will produce green fuels.

SM1 will be located in Port Augusta, South Australia, and will have the capacity to produce 7500 tonnes per annum of green methanol — one of the most versatile hydrogen derivatives which, if produced using Vast’s CSP technology, has the potential to decarbonise shipping and is already being used to power major container vessels.

Vast is co-developing SM1 with global energy company Mabanaft GmbH & Co KG (Mabanaft). The project will combine proven technologies to produce green methanol: a Leilac calcination plant from fellow Australian technology company Calix to capture carbon dioxide unavoidably produced in the making of cement and lime; an electrolysis plant to produce hydrogen; and a methanol plant.

The company said the project supports South Australia’s push to develop a domestic hydrogen industry and, if successful, could create an important pathway for scalable green fuel production that is not dependent on limited biomass resources.

The project will be powered by VS1, a co-located 30 MW/288 MWh CSP plant, which will utilise Vast’s CSP v3.0 technology to provide renewable heat and renewable electricity to produce green fuels.

In February, Vast and its project partners announced the signing of funding agreements for SM1 for up to AU$19.48 million from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA). Additional funding of up to €12.4 million has been granted to project partner Mabanaft by Projektträger Jülich (PtJ). PtJ is a partner of the public sector in Germany in science, industry and politics. That funding is part of HyGATE, a collaboration between the Australian and German governments to support real-world pilot, trial and demonstration projects along the hydrogen supply chain.

“Planning consent is an important milestone for this major project for Port Augusta and South Australia,” said Craig Wood, CEO of Vast. “SM1 will produce low-cost green fuels, which can play an important role in decarbonising the global maritime industry. The combination of technologies can be scaled rapidly, acting as a catalyst for a green fuels industry in Australia and around the world.”

“Capturing and using unavoidable emissions from cement and lime is an exciting option to help decarbonise multiple hard-to-abate industries,” said Calix CEO Phil Hodgson. “It is pleasing to see this innovative and collaborative project achieve another important milestone, bringing a world’s first solar methanol plant one step closer to being realised.”

Image credit: Vast Renewable Limited.

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