Alinta Energy Angers Solar Supporters

It seems some of the goodwill Alinta Energy has built up in relation to a potential solar thermal project in Port Augusta is in danger of being eroded due to recent comments attributed to the company.
Alinta had been considering building a solar thermal electricity plant to replace two coal-fired power stations in Port Augusta, South Australia; a move that has won wide support in the local community and nationally.
Media reports state Alinta is calling for federal funding to assist in the construction of a 50 MW solar thermal plant to replace the now-closed Playford B coal power station at Port Augusta.
However, according to Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE), Alinta may not build it with heat storage and it seems the company also wants to keep Northern – the larger of the two coal power stations – running indefinitely.
BZE says the Federal Government and Alinta  needs to get the transition right in Port Augusta by having all of Port Augusta’s “smoke replaced with mirrors”; referring to the mirrors that are used in a solar thermal facility.
The organisation states the Port Augusta community has been very clear that they want to see all of the coal replaced.
According to the Repowering Port Augusta report released earlier this year by Beyond Zero Emissions, as well as providing a reliable electricity supply, establishing a solar thermal based power generation facility in Port Augusta would create many jobs, avoid millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions and help tackle some health issues in the area.
Other comments attributed to Alinta reported by the media have raised the ire of some in the small scale solar sector who had also applauded Alinta’s interest in solar thermal power generation.
In an article on AdelaideNow, Alinta chief executive Jeff Dimery has reportedly criticised subsidies to install rooftop solar panels, saying they were a very inefficient way to produce renewable energy.
If Alinta Energy wants continued broad and rock-solid support in its bid for $65 million of public money, then it may want to be careful not to appear to be biting the hands that could help feed it.