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Solar thermal in Port Augusta Key Part of Securing SA’s Clean Energy Mix

Community-led campaign Repower Port Augusta has called on the South Australian and Federal governments to back plans to build solar thermal in Port Augusta following a new ACIL Allen report into energy security options for South Australia.

The report, funded by the Australian Energy Council–a lobby group that represents dozens of companies with coal and gas interests–highlights that building a new ‘synchronous’ generator like solar thermal in Port Augusta would deliver network benefits to South Australia.

The report however fails to investigate the potential for solar thermal with storage.

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The Australian Energy Council, a lobby group representing dozens of companies with a stake in coal and gas.

Repower Port Augusta spokesperson Dan Spencer was critical of the Australian Energy Council’s report for failing to investigate key renewable energy options.

“There’s no doubt South Australia needs to see investment in new, dispatchable generation as we transition to clean energy. Disappointingly this report fails to consider the solution staring the authors in the face: building solar thermal with storage in Port Augusta” Dan Spencer Repower Port Augusta campaigner said.

“Since the closure of the Port Augusta coal burning power station South Australians have had to deal with high gas prices. Building a new solar thermal generator in Port Augusta would provide the needed network services and some dispatchable clean competition to the gas generators” Mr Spencer said.

Despite the rise of household-level battery banks such as the Tesla powerwall (which some analysts say delivers cheaper electricity than the grid), “storage” is only mentioned once in the report. And it does not consider solar thermal with storage.

“For this report not to consider one of the world’s most advanced and cost effective storage technologies that companies are actively seeking to build in South Australia is pretty ridiculous” Mr Spencer said.

“With the South Australian government currently tendering for its power supply and the Federal government promising to back solar thermal with funding before the election we have the opportunity now for Premier Weatherill and Prime Minister Turnbull to work together and build this 21st century solution for South Australia” Mr Spencer said.

The report highlights the risk of looking to build new gas plants due to high gas prices, something Repower Port Augusta says the South Australian government should be wary of.

“The South Australian government’s power purchase seems to be targeted at either solar thermal or gas. This report highlights the risk of building new gas when gas prices are going through the roof,” says Dan Spencer.

“It’s critical the State government uses its power purchase to invest in creating a new industry for SA without the risks of polluting and expensive gas.”

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