More than 300 people of all ages gathered in Adelaide on September 24 calling for concentrating solar thermal (CST) technology to replace Port Augusta’s ageing coal fired power stations.
The action was organised by several environment groups, including the Australian Youth Climate Coalition, the Climate Emergency Action Network, the Socialist Alliance, Resistance and the Young Greens. The crowd met in Adelaide’s Rymill Park and took to the streets in a colourful, rhythmic parade, featuring a moving solar thermal tower.
The event was one of thousands of actions that took place across the globe as part of the “Moving Planet” day of action called by the climate action campaign website www.350.org.
Concentrating solar thermal (CST) power plants are being built now in California and Spain. They use swivelling mirrors to focus the sun’s rays on heat-collecting “power towers”. The heat is stored in insulated tanks containing molten salts at temperatures as high as 600ºC, allowing baseload power output, 24 hours a day.
Scientists and engineers working with Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE) in Melbourne say Port Augusta, with its first class solar resource, is an ideal location to trial this technology in Australia.
Speakers at the rally included Dr Jared Thomas, a former resident of Port Augusta and Nukunu Peoples Council Public Officer.
Thomas spoke of the potential for solar thermal projects to unite black and white communities in Port Augusta in positive, clean energy projects which would benefit the local economy.
“Our people are open to discussing the use of traditional lands for solar thermal power plant sites,” he said.
“This technology aligns with our worldview of sustaining the health of the environment and people while providing economic opportunities. Aboriginal people will support the education of their children toward employment in this industry.”
Dr Ingo Weber from Doctors for the Environment Australia spoke of the urgent health problems associated with coal and gas burning, but also of the wider health implications of a warming world.
Greens MP Mark Parnell discussed the problems of transitioning from coal to gas, stating gas would not provide significant employment opportunities for local people and would continue to cause carbon emissions that contribute to dangerous climate change.
The local community in Port Augusta will have an opportunity to learn more about solar thermal technology in a free public forum to be presented on October 29 at 3:30pm in the Cooinda Hall. For information email firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Robyn Waite, Adelaide, www.greenleft.org.au