Final push for solar thermal

Local leaders have made a final push for solar thermal energy in Port Augusta.

Representatives from Repower Port Augusta, Port Augusta City Council and the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union have come together to call on Alinta Energy to choose the solar thermal with storage power station option.

Alinta Energy announced it would conduct a full feasibility study into local solar thermal power generation in January.

They are due to release an options study on April 30, which will determine what type of power station they continue to research in their feasibility study.

The leaders are calling upon Alinta to make the right decision by choosing solar thermal with storage over a hybrid coal/solar power station.

"Choosing solar thermal with storage would open the door for a long term transition to clean energy in Port Augusta, something our community has been campaigning for for years," Repower Port Augusta chairperson Lisa Lumsden said.

Ms Lumsden said that while the outlay may seem heavy for Alinta Energy at the project's inception, the longevity of the investment will pay off in years to come.

"A hybrid model is an interdependent system that adds to our 30 year-old power plant, which means when the coal runs out, the solar component becomes defunct," she explained.

"The life of a solar thermal power plant, with storage, will go well beyond the life of the coal at the northern power station."

CFMEU regional organiser Greg Warner described the notion of a hybrid station as a "band-aid" solution for ongoing job security, which will only last until the coal runs out.

"Building solar thermal with storage would create the opportunity for a long term job transition for workers into clean energy," he said.

Mr Warner said among workers he represents, there exists a general understanding that the life of the Leigh Creek mine (which supplies coal to the current station) does not extend beyond 2027.

As such, given the number of jobs it will create (200+), he said workers are supportive of the transition to solar thermal.

Port Augusta City Council mayor Sam Johnson highlighted the opportunity for Port Augusta to be the pioneer of cutting-edge innovation for the state and the country.

"Why aren't we saying to the rest of the world; we are the country, we are going to do it first, and we're going to be the best at doing it?," he said.

"Port Augusta will be on the national stage, setting an example for this technology."

In a statement to the ABC, Alinta Energy said given they have not completed the assessment of the technologies, they are not in a position to comment on the preferred option until their report is released.

Ms Lumsden said she hopes Alinta is responsive to the voice and vision of the Port Augusta community to become a renewable energy hub.

With two years of hard campaigning, thousands of petition signatures and political rallying behind them, Ms Lumsden said Port Augusta residents are 100 per cent supportive of the call for solar thermal.

"We are so privileged to have the climate and skilled workforce and geography that is so suited to a clean energy future...and we are suited for that investment to come here," she said.

"The future for our region could be very inspiring, and were inviting them [Alinta] to be a part of that."

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