In Australia both natural gas and an excellent solar irradiance are abundant energy sources and its combination is one option to implement concentrating solar power (CSP) systems in Australia’s traditionally low cost electricity market. The recently introduced carbon pricing mechanism in Australia is likely to steer investment towards combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) plants. This will also lead to further plants being built in high solar irradiance areas where CSP could provide valuable peak capacity. Hybridisation would enable more competitive power generation than standalone CSP systems as hybrid plants share equipment, such as steam turbine and condenser, therewith lowering the specific investment.

This paper investigates the novel hybridization of CCGT and solar tower systems to increase the efficiency of integrated solar combined cycle (ISCC). Currently, all ISCC plants use parabolic trough systems with thermal oil as this technology is most mature. However, increases in plant efficiency, simpler solar tower integration as well as further synergies of solar tower ISCC systems, such as joint use of tower as CCGT stack, are likely to enhance the economic viability of new ISCC plants. In addition to a technical concept description this paper outlines the ideal sites for ISCC plants in Australia and presents a 200MWe ISCC case study with 3h molten salt thermal storage for the conversion of the Port Hedland open cycle gas turbine (OCGT) facility in Western Australia into a solar tower ISCC plant.

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