There are lessons for South Australia and the rest of the country in how Port Augusta has gone about their transition to renewable energy so far.
Port Augusta is at the epicentre of South Australia’s energy transformation. On the one hand, the unplanned closure of the coal station earlier this year left many without work, but on the other our community has called for and has the opportunity to become a hub for renewable energy. A centre for excellence in renewable energy at the crossroads of Australia.
Nobody knows better than our community that there are challenges, both technical and for the people involved, as we upgrade from old polluting power sources to a new clean energy system. What we also know is that the future is coming and we can either get onboard or be left behind which is why our community has advocated so strongly for projects like the solar thermal plant with storage to be built here.
Much of the recent commentary around renewable energy in South Australia has suggested we need to slam the brakes on new renewable projects, especially wind farms. This is the wrong response. SA’s wind and solar power puts downward pressure on wholesale power prices but when they aren’t generating expensive gas fills the gap.
A scheduled upgrade of the interconnector to Victoria a few weeks ago meant these price spikes were felt more acutely. What we need to see is support for innovative renewable storage projects like a large scale solar thermal plant in Port Augusta.
Building new renewable projects with storage is a key part of South Australia’s long term solution. Upgrading our connections to other states will also allow regions like Port Augusta to capitalise on our renewable resources and send clean power interstate.
There are lessons for South Australia and the rest of the country in how we’ve gone about our transition to renewable energy so far.
Firstly, we need to see concrete plans to support communities currently home to polluting coal burning power stations put in place now to allow for a just transition away from coal. Many of Australia’s coal stations are old, it’s not a matter of if they will close but when, so we need a plan. As well as a transition plan that creates new jobs, governments need to ensure communities aren’t left with the mess of cleaning up closing mines and power stations. Companies must take responsibility here.
Secondly, policy uncertainty has held back investment in renewable energy for too long. Australia needs a long term renewable action plan at a Federal and State level.
Thirdly, we need to see talk become action to bring on the next generation of renewable technologies. Before the federal election we had multi-partisan support for making solar thermal in Port Augusta happen.
The South Australian Government should use its purchasing power to buy energy from a solar thermal plant in Port Augusta and go to the Federal Government to get the support promised before the election delivered.
Port Augusta has been resilient in the face of our coal station closing. If South Australia can be resilient as well we can all capitalise on the benefits of a renewable powered future.
Sam Johnson is the Mayor of Port Augusta
Regulator tightens net against rooftop solar non-compliance and fraudby Sophie Vorrath on 1 December 2020 at 3:06 PM
Schneider Electric hybrid inverter certified for use in Australian homesby Sophie Vorrath on 1 December 2020 at 2:35 PM
Solar and flow battery microgrid to protect Native American lands plagued by firesby Sharon Bennett on 1 December 2020 at 1:16 PM
Model 3 leads global EV market, while Model Y beats ID.3by Bridie Schmidt on 2 December 2020 at 1:26 PM
Musk predicts full autonomy from 2021, says EVs will double electricity demandby Bridie Schmidt on 2 December 2020 at 12:34 PM
New solar electric catamaran to be based on Volkswagen MEB platformby Joshua S. Hill on 2 December 2020 at 12:21 PM