Local group fights to keep project alive

Map - Port Augusta webBy Emma Brown

April 14, 2015

ALINTA Energy has shelved its proposed solar thermal power plant at Port Augusta due to cost constraints, but community activists are lobbying to keep the project alive.

The company’s third feasibility report showed a funding gap of $150 million, prompting a grassroots campaign to attain government support for the plant.

Repower Port Augusta Alliance spokesperson Lisa Lumsden said a transition from coal to solar thermal was critical for securing long-term jobs in Port Augusta.

“If Alinta won’t go it alone we need the State Government and Federal Government to step in to make solar thermal happen,” Ms Lumsden said.

“With government assistance, a funding gap of around $150 million for a game-changing renewable energy project is not too much to ask.

“Our message to Alinta is don’t give up now and our message to the State Government is: do the right thing by Port Augusta and South Australia and step in to make solar thermal happen.”

Alinta stated the funding gap made the project economically unviable, “even under optimistic capital cost and operating cost assumptions.”

The report followed extensive industry consultation, involving third-party engineering firm Parsons Brinckerhoff and renewable specialist IT Power. It also considered the current national electricity market and the falling demand for power.

Alinta will continue to investigate the project’s potential; a fourth report will be released mid-2015.

The feasibility study is a joint initiative conducted with support from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and the South Australian Government.