Energy storage company 1414 Degrees (ASX: 14D) has unveiled plans to acquire SolarReserve Australia for $2 million and says it will offer shareholders a special entitlement to invest directly into one of Australia’s largest solar energy projects.
SolarReserve owns the Aurora Solar Energy Project near Port Augusta in South Australia, as well as two solar sites in New South Wales.
The company was progressing a solar thermal project but could not secure sufficient financing which led to its project being mothballed earlier this year.
By acquiring SolarReserve at bargain-basement prices, 1414 plans to develop Aurora while funding the staged development of its own proprietary technology that could potentially revolutionise how energy is generated and stored.
The acquisition could also spark a shakeup in energy distribution in and around Port Augusta, Davenport and the Eyre Peninsula with 1414 stating that it will control and manage the Aurora Solar Energy Project with development financing to be provided by a subsidiary company owned by 1414.
To South Australia with TESS
1414 Degrees is a large-scale energy storage specialist company that enables networks and industrial companies to remain operational through the use of a patented thermal energy storage system (TESS) storing energy as latent heat in molten silicon.
A TESS prototype was demonstrated in 2016 and then upscaled to commission a large electrically charged TESS in December 2018. 1414 has also commissioned a pilot plant at its first commercial site in May this year that works on a biogas-fired thermal energy storage system called “GAS-TESS”.
According to 1414, this site continues to operate at SA Water’s Glenelg Wastewater Treatment Plant and is delivering multiple efficiencies as well as proving the concept being advanced by the company.
1414 Degrees claims that its combined heat and power (CHP) solutions fill a critical gap in energy storage that batteries and other devices cannot service.
Today’s news of 1414’s planned acquisition is, therefore, a significant development for the South Australian energy sector and the state as a whole given the infamous energy supply issues that have plagued the territory in recent years.
Generating heat in South Australia
The Aurora Solar Energy Project currently has development approval from regulators for a 70 MW solar photovoltaic farm and around 150 megawatts of generation from a concentrated solar thermal plant (CST).
1414 Degrees is proposing to use the site to pilot its avant-garde TESS-GRID technology and create a top-tier thermal energy storage plant, and consequently, alleviate pressure on the state’s power grid, according to 1414’s executive chairman Dr Kevin Moriarty.
The company’s solar farm and the underlying technology is expected to generate “significant revenues” that will not only improve the company’s cash position but also, to fund development of its large-scale energy storage technology.
“We will be using South Australian technology to create a large-scale, thermal energy storage plant near Port Augusta able to supply reliable power on demand to the national grid,” he said.
In a statement to the market, 1414 Degrees said that it will seek government and stakeholder approvals to launch a new development application to provide up to 400 megawatts of solar photovoltaic power while installing its TESS-GRID technology.
Further down the track, 1414 Degrees said it aims to progressively scale up the storage capacity to “several thousand megawatt-hours”.
A TESS-GRID at this scale would be able to supply many hours of dispatchable electricity with spinning reserve from its turbines and a range of frequency control ancillary services to support grid stability.
An electrically charged TESS-GRID could also buy and store electricity generated by other renewable farms on the high voltage transmission network in the region, strengthening firming services and earnings from market arbitrage. Another potential application being considered is to utilise the TESS-GRID to produce hydrogen using excess heat from its turbines.
Importantly for the South Australian economy, implementing 1414’s plans would likely mean the creation of hundreds of jobs during construction in the short-term, followed up by long-term functions including operators to manage energy generation, storage plant continuity and potential distribution of energy to industries that would offtake the heat energy.
One likely industry to take advantage of heat energy could be mining companies already operational in the local vicinity of Port Augusta.
“The unregulated high-voltage transmission line to the OZ Minerals Carrapateena and Prominent Hill mines is being constructed along the boundary of the Aurora Solar Energy Project, and provision has been made for a substation at the existing Aurora site with a direct connection to the Davenport substation in Port Augusta,” said Dr Moriarty.
“We will reopen negotiations with OzMinerals and ElectraNet as soon as the acquisition is complete,” he added.