Want action on the climate emergency? Want a 50MW solar thermal plant with storage as one step towards 100% renewable energy? All it needs is $8 per week for ONE year from around 720,000 people.
That is the Big Win vision we started off with, and we still think this is a great vision IF those funds can be accumulated quickly enough. Speed is important because funds sitting in our account achieve nothing. In the short term we are using Big Win funds for smaller projects, but we are doing so in a way that does not ‘use up’ those funds. The funds will all revolve back into the Big Win fund via repayments on the loans we give to smaller projects in the meantime.
In the past if a town needed a bridge or a school, the townsfolk who wanted it would pool their resources and build one, for the sake of the common good.
If everyone who wants more solar power chips in, we could build a citizen-owned solar thermal plant, with all subsequent profit used to build yet more of them. Read about the extraordinary power of this donation model here.
Read about one possible implementation of the Big Win solar thermal vision
Stage 1: $5 million for planning, approvals, land, and 0.5MW auxiliary solar power
If the 50,000 people who typically attend climate rallies each chip in $100, or set up smaller recurring donations, we would have $5 million to get started NOW.
Stage 2: Approx $100 million for the first module + power block
240,000 people x $8/week for ONE year = $100 million
Stage 1 negotiations and planning will determine the most suitable source of solar thermal technology for the Big Win project, but the modular approach described here for Stages 2-6 has some strong advantages for a project funded by voluntary contributions. The image below is for eSolar solar thermal technology (details here). However, CSIRO or other Australian solar technology could be used for a similar modular approach, possibly with much smaller modules than the 10MW modules described in this eSolar example, meaning we could get started sooner and with less funds. The good news is that Heliostat SA has started making heliostats and are using soon-to-be-redundant automotive industry manufacturing capability to develop and mass produce Australian heliostats for solar thermal plants.
In the eSolar example of modular build out, construction begins with a central 50MW power block, the molten salt storage tanks, and one 10MW module comprised of a relatively small solar power tower surrounded by a small field of heliostats. Another four 10MW modules would be added progressively as funds become available.
Stages 3-6: Approx $50m (revenue + donations) for each of Modules 2-5
The completed central power block and first 10MW module could be operated as a solar thermal peaking plant and sell electiricty to the grid when sell prices are highest, thus providing a good revenue stream to supplement voluntary contributions towards funding the second module. Then revenue from the first two modules would help fund the third, and so on. The fifth module might be almost entirely funded by revenue from the earlier modules. When all modules are completed, all profit from electricity sales, after operation and maintenance costs, would go straight towards building another citizen-owned renewable energy project.
A general explanation of how solar thermal technology with molten salt storage works is here. (Note: the numbers here are for a 110MW system)
Who knows! If we somehow manage to make this vision go viral we may still be able to build solar thermal with storage eventually, but in the meantime we think the most important thing is to put our current Big Win funds to work reducing emissions via smaller projects.