Alinta Energy and the ARENA’s announcement that they will pursue stand-alone Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) technology in their full feasibility study has been met with praise and overwhelming support.

Alinta Energy and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency’s announcement that they will pursue stand-alone Concentrated Solar Power (CSP)  technology in their full feasibility study has been met with praise and overwhelming support. 

The highly-anticipated results of Alinta Energy’s options study were released on Thursday morning after months of anticipation from the Port Augusta community and beyond.

The news has received applause from several key stakeholders and has been generally regarded as a significant milestone on the road towards pioneering renewable energy options in South Australia, despite little support from the federal government. 

Repower Port Augusta, a local lobbying group who has campaigned long and hard for solar thermal power generation in Port Augusta, welcomed the long-awaited news yesterday morning by popping a bottle of champagne.

""We’re elated, this is what the community has been fighting for." – Lisa Lumsden, Repower Port Augusta chairperson".

Repower Port Augusta chairperson Lisa Lumsden said Alinta has made the right decision in choosing to pursue solar thermal with storage over a hybrid option.

"We’re elated, this is what the community has been fighting for," she said. 

“Solar thermal with storage gives our community the opportunity to transition away from coal, keep jobs in town and secure our long term future.

“In Port Augusta we have the space, the sun, the workforce to make it happen, and now we have a company studying exactly how they could do it.

“We’re really encouraged by this major step forward from Alinta and now we’ll be doing all we can to make solar thermal with storage a reality in Port Augusta.”

Port Augusta City Council mayor Sam Johnson was equally as pleased with the news, suggesting it would put Port Augusta on the international stage as home to the innovative and renewable energy technology.

“To me, this is a massive step in the right direction…it’s a huge capital investment in regional South Australia, and to us
[council] , it’s what we want to see,” he said.

“I think this will put Port Augusta on the map not just from a regional point of view, but an international point of view.

“Port Augusta will be renowned for being the renewable energy source of the future.”

The announcement also received further praise from the Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC) and South Australian Greens senator Penny Wright.

AYCC Port Augusta campaigner Daniel Spencer described the decision to focus on a stand-alone solar thermal option within the study as a fantastic step forward.

“What solar thermal means is that we can actually replace baseload power stations with renewable energy because of the ability to store the heat,” he explained.

“I think it gives hope to people living here who want to see change.”

Senator Wright echoed such praises of the study, congratulating Alinta Energy for their decision.

“Solar thermal will keep jobs in Port Augusta, improve the health of the community and uniquely position the town for the future,” she said.
Federal cuts endanger future of solar thermal

While all parties were elated to hear the milestone announcement, many pointed to the next big hurdle; the federal government’s plan to axe ARENA, endangering funding opportunities for the project to eventuate into development.

Senator Wright said the federal government’s cuts to ARENA would absolutely jeapordise the future of the plant.

“This is yet another reason for Tony Abbott to stop his attack on funding renewables, including his plan to axe the ARENA which has provided crucial funding for Alinta’s feasibility study,” she said.

However, Repower Port Augusta and the YACC are not disheartened, and are more determined than ever. 

Both groups confirmed they are committed to fighting for the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and ARENA, which the development of the solar thermal project relies so heavily upon.

“We’re hoping that the new senate saves the ARENA which is something that the coalition had committed to, and they broke a promise on, and is going to be critical in getting this project up,” Mr Spencer said.

“The federal government really needs to get behind this opportunity rather than attacking existing funding for renewable energy,” Ms Lumsden echoed. “This is a long-term fight.”