In the 2017-18 Federal Government, the government is making $110 million of its $1.6 billion of spending available to kickstart private investment in a solar thermal plant in Port Augusta in South Australia.
Tagged under the government's investment in "climate spending", the money will go towards kickstarting a private company to build a solar thermal plant — like the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System in southern Nevada — at Port Augusta on SA's coast at the Spencer Gulf.
Private companies like Solar Reserve have previously said they need a government investment of around $100 million to start development, but the solar thermal technology that will be developed will be able to supply baseload power through renewables to a state desperately in need of it.
Solar thermal uses molten salt to store heat reflected by an array of thousands of mirrors, allowing that energy to be used to spin turbines and create power 24 hours a day like a traditional coal- or gas-fired power plant.
From the government's budget papers: "The [budget's climate spending figures] incorporate the Government’s decision to make available up to $110.0 million for an equity investment, if required, to accelerate and secure delivery of a solar thermal project in Port Augusta, South Australia."
This is the Ivanpah Solar Power Facility, on the border of Nevada and California in the southern United States. With three of these massive solar thermal towers and 4000 acres filled with 173,500 sunlight-reflecting heliostat mirrors, it generates four times as much power as the largest solar plant in the southern hemisphere, and is the largest solar thermal power station in the world. It's actually beautiful, and we could have it.