Port Augusta locals are celebrating today following Premier Jay Weatherill and the South Australian Government’s commitment to a back a solar thermal plant with storage in Port Augusta that will create new jobs after a five-year community campaign.
The South Australian Government has committed to a long-term power purchase agreement from the world’s biggest solar thermal plant with storage in Port Augusta to be built by SolarReserve following an open tender process.
“This is a huge people powered win for our community and South Australia. Building solar thermal with storage in Port Augusta will create new jobs, on-demand solar power, reduce emissions and put downward pressure on power bills,” said Gary Rowbottom, former coal-fired power station worker and chairperson of Repower Port Augusta.
“We thank Premier Weatherill and the South Australian Government for listening to our community’s overwhelming call and backing this innovative, job-creating solar technology that locks in Port Augusta as an energy powerhouse for SA once again,” Mr Rowbottom said.
For over five years, local Port Augusta community members campaigned for solar thermal alongside the city council, unions, local business, health groups, climate groups and renewable energy groups from across Australia as part of the Repower Port Augusta Alliance.
“Premier Weatherill and the South Australian Government backing solar thermal in Port Augusta is a testament to the hard work and generous spirit of our community and everyone who has stood with us to make this happen” Lisa Lumsden, local resident and Repower Port Augusta spokesperson said.
“This will help us build a bright new future in Port Augusta and will ensure South Australia has clean, renewable electricity 24/7,” Ms Lumsden said.
Solar thermal has been supported across party lines with the Federal Government committing $110 million of equity in the May 2017 Federal Budget to building solar thermal with storage in Port Augusta.
“Alongside the South Australian Government, the Federal Liberal Government, the SA Liberals, Nick Xenophon, the Greens and the Federal ALP have all supported solar thermal in Port Augusta as a sensible solution for SA,” Dan Spencer Repower Port Augusta campaigner with Solar Citizens said.
“This decision shows what can be achieved when our representatives stop using renewables as a political football and get on with making an orderly transition to clean, renewable energy happen for all Australians,” Mr Spencer said.
“We want to congratulate all involved in supporting solar thermal and renewable energy solutions that help local communities,” Mr Spencer said.
Solar thermal technology uses mirrors to concentrate the sun’s light at the top of a tower, heating molten salt which is stored and the heat used to operate a steam turbine. The project will be the biggest solar thermal plant with storage in the world at 150 MW with 8 hours of storage which is expected to create hundreds of jobs peaking at 1,000 jobs in construction, 50 ongoing jobs and create local manufacturing opportunities.
Background timeline of key events
Timeline of Key Events
- 2011 Beyond Zero Emissions launch ‘Repowering Port Augusta’ report
- April 2012 Repower Port Augusta local group formed
- July 2012 Repower Port Augusta hold local ‘community vote’ on solar thermal vs new gas as replacement for Port Augusta power stations
- September 2012 100 people walk 328 kms from Port Augusta to Adelaide in support of solar thermal
- October 2012 SA Parliament holds select committee into solar thermal, proposed by now Liberal Energy Spokesperson Dan Van Holst Pellekaan
- June 2015 Port Augusta coal station closure announced
- November 2015 South Australian Government opens expression of interest to supply government energy – solar thermal plant tenders
- May 2016 Port Augusta coal stations close
- May 9 2017 Federal Government commits $110 million in equity financing to building solar thermal in Port Augusta in the Federal Budget
- August 14 2017 South Australian Government commits to power purchase agreement with SolarReserve to build solar thermal with storage in Port Augusta