Port Augusta leads the way in renewable revolution

CONFERENCE: Former Mayor Sam Johnson, Climate Council CEO Amanada McKenzie and former Premier of South Australia Jay Weatherill welcomed council's from around the country to witness the renewable energy transformation in Port Augusta.
CONFERENCE: Former Mayor Sam Johnson, Climate Council CEO Amanada McKenzie and former Premier of South Australia Jay Weatherill welcomed council's from around the country to witness the renewable energy transformation in Port Augusta.

Leaders from across the nation congregated in Port Augusta this week to see first hand why the city carries the crown of Australia's renewable energy capital.

Port Augusta's coal to clean energy transformation has been at the forefront of discussion since the closure of the power station in 2016.

Three years on, and 14 councils from all around Australia have travelled to the region to witness the world-leading renewable revolution and ramp up clean energy in their own cities and towns.

Climate Council chief executive Amanda McKenzie met with the local government leaders as part of the Climate Council's Cities Power Partnership Program.

The Cities Power Partnership is Australia's largest local government climate network, made up over 100 councils from across the country, representing almost 11 million Australians.

"People all around Australia are really interested to see what Port Augusta has done here," Ms McKenzie said.

"We are interested to see the process of moving away from coal fired power generation to renewable energy, how to attract investment to a regional area that is going to support a whole range of different renewable energy projects."

Delegates spent two days on a 'renewables road-trip' throughout the region studying renewable energy solutions, including the Lincoln Gap Wind Farm and the Bungala Solar Farm.

Former South Australian leader and renewable energy advocate Jay Weatherill reinforced the importance of collaboration between state, local and national governments to get these projects off the ground.

"Port Augusta is really a shining example of that energy transformation," Mr Weatherill said.

"It's a model for other communities around the nation, and indeed around the world.

"Much of the action that is occurring on climate change around the world is occurring at sub-national government level, so state governments and local governments are the real drivers of change here and they have many of the systems that can actually make a difference."

Former Port Augusta Mayor Sam Johnson was a key player in the region's energy revolution and praised the ongoing efforts of the community in driving the renewable capital vision.

Mr Johnson underscored the importance of strong local leadership in a time of uncertainty during the closure of the power station.

"Port Augusta is leading the way and it also shows that the energy market is changing and people know it. So it's actually time to embrace the change that we have seen here in Port Augusta," Mr Johnson said.

"We are seeing a large array of projects, differing technology in those projects, a significant amount of private capital investment from around the world right here in Port Augusta and a significant amount of jobs. It's an exciting time."

On Januray 24 this year, Port Augusta recorded it's hottest day on record, with Adelaide also exceeding the hottest temperature of any other capital city.

"People can actually get involved in making a difference in something that couldn't be more important than the future of the planet," Mr Weatherill said.

"Port Augusta has demonstrated that they can turn this threat into an opportunity with the jobs and technology of the future."