Fight for solar thermal heats up ahead of options study announcement

SPEECH: Repower Port Augusta chairperson Lisa Lumsden was a guest speaker at a Solar Citizens forum in Adelaide this week. Photo: Michael Kubler.

SPEECH: Repower Port Augusta chairperson Lisa Lumsden was a guest speaker at a Solar Citizens forum in Adelaide this week. Photo: Michael Kubler.

Repower Port Augusta was represented at a recent Solar Citizens event, as the community patiently awaits results of a study which will determine the future of solar thermal power in Port Augusta.

The ‘Solar at Risk’ forum was held by national body Solar Citizens in Adelaide on Tuesday, June 10, where hundreds of attendees heard from expert speakers and discussed issues, preparing to act against the growing threats to solar.

Repower Port Augusta chairperson Lisa Lumsden gave an poignant address at the event, speaking of Port Augusta’s own campaign to transition from coal to solar thermal with storage.

“I explained that we have lived with coal for almost 60 years and that we want a long term clean energy future,one that provides long term jobs and clean air, one that contributes to action on climate change and one that has the potential to transform our towns future into one that is cutting edge and innovative,” Ms Lumsden said.

“We must take every opportunity to raise public awareness of the Repower Port Augusta campaign because we need their support too if we are going to get this.

“State and federal politicians need to be hearing about this from far and wide electorates.”

With thousands of petition signatures and political rallying behind them, Repower Port Augusta have been campaigning long and hard for a solar thermal with storage plant over a hybrid coal/solar power station.

The forum was aptly timed, given Alinta Energy is due to publicly release the report which will determine the type of power station they continue to research in their full feasibility study, which was announced in January 2014.

Alinta confirmed the report had been submitted to the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) at the end of May.

It was originally understood that the findings of the study would be made available to the public at the end of May.

However, this will take place upon completion of the review by ARENA, now due to take place at the end of June.

Both Alinta and ARENA reaffirmed their commitment to making the information available to the public as soon as possible.

“We will be in touch when we have something to share,” an Alinta spokesperson said.

“We are committed to sharing this information with the Port Augusta community proactively.”

ARENA denied any delays, suggesting the project is on track to review the findings in line with the timing in the funding agreement.

Ms Lumsden said Repower Port Augusta has received great communication from Alinta in regarding the reporting deadlines, and are thus very understanding and accepting of the situation.  

“I'm not too concerned about whole project delays at this stage, I'm pleased that due diligence is being given to the study,” Ms Lumsden said.

Until then, the Port Augusta community will patiently await the verdict which may change the face of South Australian power generation.