Non-profit think-tank Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE) has released ‘Repowering Port Augusta’; a blueprint for replacing South Australia’s emissions intensive Northern and Playford B brown coal-fired power stations with wind power and solar energy facilities.
The Northern and Playford B power stations currently provide around 40 percent of South Australia’s power – and also contribute significantly to the state’s carbon emissions.
The closure of Port Augusta’s Playford B coal plant will occur in July and Northern Power Station could be forced to close by 2015. Alinta Energy, owner of the stations, confirmed a few days ago Northern Power Station will only operate for six months of the year soon.
Replacing the plants with gas, as has been proposed, will hold South Australia hostage to volatile and increasing gas prices, increase South Australia’s dependence on unconventional and emissions intensive gas and would also lead to a significant reduction in power generation jobs in Port Augusta says BZE.
BZE believes implementation of its blue print would elevate South Australia, a state already well known for embracing wind power, as a world leader in renewable energy and make Port Augusta an “iconic global hub for baseload solar power generation”.
The report states six solar thermal power towers and ninety wind turbines could replace existing facilities and provide secure, affordable electricity to South Australia and the Eastern Australian grid. Solar thermal electricity generation can incorporate molten salt heat storage or other technologies in order to allow for electricity generation 24/7.
The project would also ensure continued employment of existing workers at local power stations; create 1,300 construction jobs and 225 manufacturing jobs for South Australia.
Aside from economic and environmental benefits, BZE says Port Augusta residents experience an increased incidence of respiratory issues, which have been linked by some to coal fired power generation; issues that may be addressed by a switch to renewable energy.
Repowering Port Augusta states the cost of completely replacing both power plants with renewable energy as proposed in the blueprint would be equivalent to a 1c per kWh power price increase if the cost were levelled across South Australian electricity consumers; or if it were spread across all Eastern states grid customers, as little as 0.21 c per kWh price rise.
“Repowering Port Augusta” can be viewed in full here (PDF).