State Parliament would this week be briefed on the benefits of replacing the coal-fired power stations in Port Augusta with concentrating solar thermal power.
Mr van Holst Pellekaan said without the briefing the Liberal party does not have a position on the proposal. “I can say that there will not be another coal-fired power station built in this country,” he said. All members of parliament are invited to attend, as well as their staff.
“Any sensible person must be interested in a policy that could provide sustainable, renewable and affordable electricity,” Mr van Holst Pellekaan said.
Although solar thermal ticks some boxes for Mr van Holst Pellekaan, he is concerned about the ongoing livelihood of Leigh Creek.
“Someone may ask ‘Do you want 250 jobs or do you want clean energy that’s good for the environment’, it’s never that simple,” Mr van Holst Pellekaan said.
A spokesman for the minister of mineral resources said the government is committed to a renewable energy target of 33 per cent by 2020, but the power station will continue to rely on coal.
The spokesman didn’t rule out the use of the technology in the future, but said solar thermal energy is currently more expensive to generate than by “conventional means”.
“The State Government considers solar thermal energy to be one of the very prospective technologies that will eventually assist our economy to transition to a carbon-constrained future,” he said.
Mayor Joy Baluch is passionate about seeing a solar thermal power station built in Port Augusta. At the Repower Port Augusta forum on Saturday, Mrs Baluch said Port Augusta had been treated badly by both state and federal governments, but “the best is yet to come,” for the city.
“No other city in Australia has more to gain than Port Augusta,” she told the forum. “The piercing hot sun will go from obstacle to energy.”
Mrs Baluch criticised the power station and the governments for turning a blind eye to the health of the people in Port Augusta. “We have paid the price for the state’s cheap energy,” she said.