Clouds Gather For A Solar Port Augusta (For Now)

Alinta Energy’s application to the Federal Government’s Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) for funding for a feasibility study relating to solar thermal power has been rejected.
Alinta was to fully investigate solar thermal and hybrid options for its coal-fired Northern Power Station and Playford B Power Station in Port Augusta, South Australia. The prospect of making the switch to renewables received overwhelming thumbs up from the Port Augusta community; which has been plagued by health issues over the years.
According to AdelaideNow, Alinta Energy has said it will explore potential opportunities “as technologies continue to mature and the policy environment becomes more certain.”
The situation at Port Augusta isn’t just a Port Augusta issue. The power generated there isn’t just consumed locally and its two plants have in the past been responsible 50% of South Australia’s electricity related emissions. While the Playford B Power Station has been mothballed, Northern Power Station is still producing power six months a year. 
When it was running, Playford B power station was the dirtiest in the country per unit of energy produced according to Greens MLC Mark Parnell.
The fact that both plants are to be replaced has provided a golden opportunity to make the switch to renewables; an opportunity that appears to have been lost for now.
When ‘Repowering Port Augusta‘ was released in 2012 by non-profit think-tank Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE), the group stated that if gas generation should be used to replace the plants, it would hold South Australia hostage to volatile gas prices and increase South Australia’s dependence on unconventional and emissions intensive gas.
Port Augusta Council chief executive Greg Perkin commented that the decision is a blow not only for Port Augusta’s future but Australia’s as well and vowed to make it an issue during the lead-up to the Federal election.
There’s no doubt that if the City’s previous firebrand Mayor, Joy Baluch, was still alive; she would have some choice words to share about the situation. Mayor Baluch was a driving force behind the push to rid the area of coal fired power and a staunch solar supporter.