The South Australian Government has been informed by SolarReserve, the company proposing the Aurora Solar Thermal Plant in Port Augusta, that it will not be in a position to achieve Financial Close by the 31 of May 2019 as required under the Generation Project Agreement Amendment Deed.
The date to achieve Financial Close was amended by the State Government from its original 1 February 2018.
Upon receiving the information from SolarReserve I requested further information on 2 April regarding its intentions for the project going forward.
Yesterday, I received a response which confirmed how SolarReserve proposes to sell the project to a third party who may take the project or an alternative project forward at the site.
As a consequence of SolarReserve’s inability to meet the Financial Close Deadline, the State Government will immediately begin the process of returning to market to secure its future electricity needs.
Any party that might purchase the project from SolarReserve will be able to tender for the new contract.
The South Australian Government has a contract in place with SIMEC ZEN Energy to supply electricity until November 2020, and the contract has an extension option if required.
The South Australian Government has provided SolarReserve with every opportunity to deliver on the terms of the contract it signed with the former State Government, in August 2017.
Both the current and former State Government modified and extended the terms of the contract to assist SolarReserve to meet its commitments under the Agreement.
SolarReserve first notified the previous State Government of their difficulties in securing finance before the last election, and they were granted additional time.
Since the election in March 2018, the Government has worked hard to provide every reasonable assistance to the project, including additional time, finalisation of the project lease, approval of identified engineering, procurement and construction contractors, and introduction to potential financiers and investors.
I have long been a supporter of developing solar thermal technology in the Upper Spencer Gulf and this has not changed, but unfortunately SolarReserve has confirmed that it cannot be the company to do this.
I know that this news will be a concern for the local people and businesses of Port Augusta, but the region remains the focus of the growth that the Government is overseeing in the energy sector, and I remain very confident for the region’s future.
The State Government will ensure that we get the best deal possible for the people of South Australia, including delivering more affordable, reliable and cleaner electricity in South Australia.