Clean Energy Innovation Fund making Port Augusta solar more of a reality

SOLAR: SolarReserve's Port Augusta proposal is set to get a huge boost when the federal government announces financial backing today.
SOLAR: SolarReserve's Port Augusta proposal is set to get a huge boost when the federal government announces financial backing today.

SOLARRESERVE’S proposed solar thermal plant north of Port Augusta is set to be announced as one of the first projects supported by the federal government’s $1 billion Clean Energy Innovation Fund.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Environment Minister Greg Hunt announced plans for the fund investing up to $100 million a year in emerging technologies.

While confirmation of where the funding is to be allocated, Mr Turnbull made specific mention of Port Augusta’s plight to have solar thermal in the region become a reality, and praised the city’s efforts to become a solar hub.

“We are promoting innovation and new economic opportunities, enhancing our productivity, protecting our environment and reducing emissions to tackle climate change,’’ Mr Turnbull said.

“An example of a project could be a large scale solar facility with storage in Port Augusta. By offering innovative equity and debt products, the Clean Energy Innovation Fund can accelerate the availability of new technologies to transform the energy market, and deliver better value for taxpayers.”

Similar projects in the United States have created about 1000 construction jobs, 50 ongoing roles and 4000 indirect jobs.

Mr Turnbull said the Clean Energy Innovation Fund has been earmarked for ‘early-stage clean energy projects’ needed help getting off the ground to attract private equity.

State Member for Stuart Dan van Holst Pellekkan said government support would be well accepted locally.

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“Support for a proposal of this type has been extremely strong throughout Port Augusta and the surrounding region for several years now...” Mr van Holst Pellekkan said.

“Alinta's decision only increases the need for the installation of power generation capacity within South Australia which has the ability to both store electricity and, very importantly, deliver it into the grid at times when thermal wind generators cannot. 

He said the technology has been proven to work and having a firm proposal from a company with a proven track record has the capacity to deliver in Port Augusta.

“Combining both extremely reliable sunshine, proximity to the national grid and appropriate available land, Port Augusta is the very best location in the nation for solar power generation and the job creation outcomes ...” Mr van Holst Pellekaan said.

“This is exactly the type of renewable energy project that (Clean Energy Innovation Fund) was established to support…”