More than 4000 people voted for big solar plants to replace the city’s two aging coal-fired power stations, while just 43 people voted for gas power.
Port Augusta residents gave a resounding thumbs up for a solar powered future in a community vote in July. More than 4000 people voted for big solar plants to replace the city’s two aging coal-fired power stations, while just 43 people voted for gas power.
The Repower Port Augusta campaign says building six solar thermal power plants and 95 wind turbines would be enough to do away with fossil fuel power. This would create about 1800 jobs and cut millions of tonnes of greenhouse gases each year.
Now, a group of activists will take part in a two-week-long Walk for Solar from Port Augusta to Adelaide to press for state and federal government support for the project. The Walk will start on September 16 and reach Adelaide’s Rundle Park on September 30 to join a public rally and march for solar power.
Green Left Weekly’s Gemma Weedall asked three participants in the Walk for Solar about the campaign.
Margaret Hender, a freelance translator living in Adelaide’s northern suburbs, is a founder of the “One Person Can” project.
Danny Kakoschke, a 19-year-old activist and student, is a member of Resistance, the Communist Party of Australia, Left Unity and the Climate Emergency Action Network SA.
Leonora Herweijer, a 20-year-old Adelaide-based climate activist, is the South Australian co-coordinator of the Australian Youth Climate Coalition.
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Why are you Walking for Solar this September?
Margaret Hender (MH): Why? Survival instinct! Climate change threatens the wellbeing and safety of us all, and switching from fossil fuels to renewable energy is the main thing we can do to reduce that threat. It is essential, and entirely doable.
Port Augusta is one of the solar locations identified in Beyond Zero Emissions’ Zero Carbon Australia Stationary Energy Plan — a plan showing how 100% of Australia’s electricity could be generated from renewable sources (mainly wind and solar) using currently available and proven technology.
I became very excited when I first saw this plan … less so over the ensuing months when it remained just a plan.
Now we have a good chance to get the ball rolling. Port Augusta, for many reasons, is the obvious place to start implementing a switch to 100% renewable energy, particularly since the current coal-fired power stations are closing and the electricity grid infrastructure that would be required for a solar thermal plant there is already in place.
From the safe-climate perspective, solar rather than gas is the obvious choice. But gas would seem short-sighted even from an economic perspective. Gas would require investment in a new gas pipeline, which is likely to become a stranded asset as global gas prices rise.
In contrast, once a solar thermal plant is built, fuel costs are more-or-less free, and we don’t need to ravage the countryside to harvest sunlight.
Danny Kakoschke (DK): I am walking the 328 kilometres from Port Augusta to Adelaide because it symbolises the importance of acting on climate change. It would take most people a lot to walk over 300 kilometres, and climate change is a lot.
Solar thermal power is a technology that makes a lot of sense to use in Australia. In a land both so blessed and cursed by the sun we ought use the sun for as much good as possible and trying to unfuck our planet is a heck of a lot of good.
Port Augusta is a good place to build solar thermal plants because the infrastructure already exists. Gas would require new pipelines and