Blast brings down coal-fired power station in South Australia

South Australia's renewable energy

Boilers weighing 10,000 tonnes have been blown up at Port Augusta’s old coal-fired power station in South Australia.

According to owner Flinders Power, specialist explosive charges were successfully used on Thursday to demolish the two boilers, the biggest parts left of the Northern Power Station. Key parts, including the turbine generator, were demolished earlier this year.

The Northern Power Station began operations in 1985 and ended electricity production in May 2016.

Coal-fired power station: The Northern Power Station demolished at Port Augusta.

The Northern Power Station demolished at Port Augusta on Thursday. Image: Flinders Power

A video taken by Flinders Power shows the boilers falling in a controlled fashion to opposite sides of the site.

The blasts are visible at the base of the structures which then peel away, bringing up large clouds of dust.

Flinders Power had warned dust might be raised, but later said it had been contained. “An amount of dust was visible at the site of the demolition, which settled on the site,” the company said in a statement.

Toxic legacy of the coal-fired power station era

Earlier this year, the legacy of the Northern Power Station’s coal burning created an ash haze over the city of Port Augusta.

Ash left over from the coal-fired power station was stored in a 220-hectare site close to the decommissioned station. It had been treated with dust suppressant in November 2016, but heavy rains broke through the crust. Winds carried the ash skyward, creating a pall over the nearby city.

Craig Wilkins, chief executive of the Conservation Council of South Australia, said the community of Port Augusta had been let down.

“What’s happening at Port Augusta is the clearest example yet of why a clearer plan for South Australia’s energy future is desperately needed,” he said.

Future bright for South Australian renewables

South Australia is rapidly becoming a commercial centre for renewable energy. Earlier this year Tesla’s Elon Musk vowed to build the world’s biggest battery in the state by Christmas.

Then just this week Irish company DP Energy announced expansions to its renewable energy park earmarked for Port Augusta. It plans for an additional 300MW of solar and 400MW of solar battery storage to its initial plans.

The week before, UK billionaire Sanjeev Gupta announced plans to build 1,000MW of renewable generation at his Whyalla steel plant.