A multi-million dollar cash injection from a Spanish energy giant will kick-start construction on DP Energy's Renewable Energy Park.
Construction on the hybrid wind and solar farm is set to commence this year with Spanish company Iberdrola investing $500 million in to the project.
The park will be one of the southern hemisphere's largest renewable power stations, consisting of about 210MW of wind generation and 110 MW of solar PV generation.
DP Energy CEO Simon De Pietro welcomed Iberdrola's participation in the project.
"We are delighted to have partnered with Iberdrola on this project. The company is a global energy leader with a track record of 31GW of renewable capacity amongst other activities," he said.
"It's exciting that they've chosen PAREP (Port Augusta Renewable Energy Park) for their first investment in Australia and we are enthusiastic to see the project commence construction.
"We have a strong pipeline of activity and we look forward to progressing these projects by utilising Australia's world-class wind and solar assets, as we've done in Port Augusta."
South Australian Minister for Energy and Mining Dan van Holst Pellekaan said Iberdrola's investment was an endorsement of Port Augusta's renewable energy credentials.
Iberdrola will take ownership and ongoing operation from DP Energy once the project is built.
"Iberdrola is a world leader in wind energy and will use DP Energy's Port Augusta solar and wind farm project to make its debut in the Australian market, creating up to 200 regional construction jobs and upon completion, providing around 320 megawatts of power from South Australia."
Once complete, the Port Augusta Renewable Energy Park is projected to produce approximately 900GWh per year, enough to power around 180,000 households each year.
It will boast an emissions saving of about 400,000 metric tonnes of CO2 annually.
Project approvals also include a battery which can be added later if economically viable.
Project progression concerns
Stage Two of the power station's approval in 2019 was met with concern by some local residents following an increase to the wind turbine height.
The original development in 2016 was based on 150-metres maximum tip height, but an amendment to the development application increased the tip height by 35-metres.
The turbines are higher than the Sundrop Farm tower and any building in Adelaide.
The submission originally divided elected members at a Port Augusta City Council meeting, with Councillor John Naisbitt especially vocal.
"The PACC has a policy that prohibits building of multi-storey dwellings or reasonable size sheds on the Western Gulf. This is because apparently people cannot see the wonderful Baxter Range from a boat," he said.
"If this is a policy for the western side of the Gulf, why on earth hasn't something been done to stop the environmental disaster about to happen on the eastern side of the Gulf.
"Everyone that is local knows that the Flinders Ranges changes colours from late afternoon to sunset, a magnificent view. After sixty years of looking at the hills to have this put in place the planning people need to be removed."
The project is located on the coastal plain south-east of Port Augusta, occupying approximately 5400 hectares of land running from Port Paterson in the north, to Winninowie in the south and spanning Highway One.
Despite those concerns, DP Energy Australia Director and Country Manager Catherine Way said they were encouraged by the strong support for the project from the Port Augusta community and the state government.
"Since the closure of the coal fired power station at Port Augusta the city has become a hub for innovative renewable energy projects due to the areas unique natural strengths, and PAREP is set to be an important part of that future energy mix and the landscape of the region," Ms Way said.
"More broadly, Australia has incredible natural renewable energy assets across the country, which will allow DP Energy to develop other projects in Australia."
Another feather in Port Augusta's renewable cap
Port Augusta Mayor Brett Benbow said the much anticipated project has been worth the wait.
"It's a great result, its a great opportunity for employment and continues to recognise the renewable opportunities within our region and our beautiful city," he said.
The project is seen as another jewel in Port Augusta's crown as the renewable capital of Australia.
"If you look back to the initial benchmark which was Sundrop Farms, since then we have had Bungala Solar Farm, Nexif Energy with a solar PV project, ZIMEC battery out at Port Patterson and now we're looking at another wind/solar to create another 320MW of power which is amazing," Mr Benbow said.
"It's what we have been promoting for over a decade and it's coming to fruition.
"We are setting a great example for reduction of emissions ... this project alone is 400,000 metric metres of CO2 taken out of the atmosphere, which is a fantastic result. If that can continue throughout Australia and the world, that's how we win."