Solar thermal progress

The Port Augusta community has reacted positively to the news Alinta Energy will conduct a full feasibility study into local solar thermal power generation.

Repower Port Augusta chairperson Lisa Lumsden congratulates the community of Port Augusta for their hard work.

“We want to thank everyone in the Port Augusta community who has advocated long and hard for solar thermal in Port Augusta,” Ms Lumsden said. 

“This step just goes to show what communities can do when they stand up for their future, but we still have more to do.”

Last week, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) announced it will partner with natural gas and electricity provider, Alinta, and the South Australian government to undertake a $2.3 million full feasibility study into solar thermal generation at Port Augusta.

ARENA announced it would contribute $1 million to the study, with $1.2 million to come from Alinta and a further $130,000 from the state government.

Ms Lumsden said it needs to be ensured there is funding available for solar thermal when the study is done.

“Otherwise this is no guarantee that solar thermal will happen in Port Augusta which is the end goal, and it needs to be built with storage,” Ms Lumsden said.

“Our challenge to politicians both and state and federal, is to look beyond this study and plan for solar thermal to be built in Port Augusta and that means making funding available.”

Port Augusta city manager Greg Perkin said the announcement is fantastic news for the community.

“We commend Alinta Energy for its commitment to pursue renewable energy options,” Mr Perkin said.

“It is an exciting time for Port Augusta in terms of renewable energy projects.

“There is no reason, given our location and climate, that we cannot be a centre for the renewable energy industry.” 

State member for Stuart Dan van Holst Pellekaan said the feasibility study funding is another step in the right direction.

“The solar thermal proposal for Port Augusta is very important and I have pushed extremely hard to give it every chance of success including establishing a select committee in parliament to look into it,” Mr van Holst Pellekaan said.

Ms Lumsden said the health of the Port Augusta community is a key reason why solar thermal has been so supported by the community. 

“Which is why it is crucial that we see a standalone solar thermal plant with storage built, not a coal/solar hybrid,” Ms Lumsden said.

“A solar/coal hybrid is just putting an old polluting power station on life support.”

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