In December 2014, Aalborg CSP was selected to design and deliver the world's first Integrated Energy System based on the concentrated solar power (CSP) technology for the sustainable operation of Sundrop Farms' new greenhouse facilities - the solar energy system has been fully operational since October 2016.


Client:   John Holland
End user/Owner:        Sundrop Farms
Location:   Port Augusta, Australia
Status:   Operational

Sundrop Farms, a leader in sustainable horticulture

As a pioneer within arid climate agricultural business, Sundrop Farms has a unique concept of growing high-value crops in the South Australian desert using seawater and sunlight as main resources. Their pilot plant's positive operational experience since 2010 encouraged the large-scale application of the technology, expanding current operation by 20 hectares with the aim of producing over 17,000 tonnes of fresh vegetables annually for the Australian consumers - this accounts for appr. 15% of Australia's entire tomato market.

From feasibility study to turnkey delivery

Aalborg CSP first completed the pre-engineering study and determined technical and economic viability of the project as well as the scope of the system. Based on the positive findings, in December 2014 Aalborg CSP received the order to supply the Integrated Energy System which is the first large-scale CSP-based technology in the world to provide multiple energy streams (heating, fresh water and electricity) for horticultural activities.

Philipp Saumweber, CEO of Sundrop Farms

Strong partnerships are essential to the Sundrop model and Aalborg CSP have consistently delivered on promises and guaranteed the reliable operation of our greenhouse, contributing to the success of this truly sustainable, world-first facility

Integrated Energy System

The Integrated Energy System is based on the concentrated solar power (CSP) technology and it combines multiple technologies to utilize given natural resources in the most efficient way.

Unlike other CSP plants in the world that produce a single energy output, such as electricity only, the Integrated Energy System in Port Augusta harnesses the sun in the most efficient way to satisfy multiple energy demands. More than 23,000 heliostats (computer-controlled mirrors) installed in the desert ground collect the sun’s rays and reflect them onto the top of a 127m high solar tower. Here, the concentration of energy generates high temperatures which is then used to heat the greenhouses in wintertime and on cold summer nights, to provide fresh water by desalinating seawater drawn from the nearby Spencer Gulf (5 km from the site) and to periodically run a steam turbine to produce electricity. Energy production is tailored to the seasonal needs of the greenhouses and is balanced throughout the year to achieve the lowest possible energy costs.

Besides offering a cost-competitive alternative to conventional energy technologies, the system contributes to a greener future as it avoids the emission of up to 16,000 tons of CO2 annually. This is equivalent to 3,100 cars removed from the roads in a year.

Project Facts:

Greenhouse area:   200,000 m2
Integrated energy system area:        140,000 m2
Number of heliostats:   23,712 / 51,505 m2
Solar tower height:   127 m
Heat production:   20,000 MWh heat / year
Fresh water production:   250,000 m3 water / year
Electricity production:   1,700 MWh electricity / year
Tomatoes produced:   17,000 tons / year
Environmental savings:   400,000 tons CO2 / 25 years

Project updates

Click through the pictures to see how the construction progresses in Port Augusta. (The pictures are organized in chronological order, latest project updates appear first.)