Solar thermal power for Port Augusta?

Below is a request to Nick Champion, my federal MP.


For decades I've been involved in environmental and sustainable living programs. I'm deeply concerned about global pollution and the effects that rapid climate shifts will have on humans in the future. Burning fossil fuels belongs in the 19th century and yet, here we are in the 21st century, and it's still happening but now it's on a scale unprecedented at any time in human history. The risks of continuing this practice have been well-documented, the risks to human health are enormous.

There are few times in the life-cycle of major facilities where an opportunity is presented that can chart a new course to greater environmental outcomes and significantly less human impacts.

Such a time exists right now with the Northern and Playford B power stations.

The option to convert these power stations to solar thermal requires intensive and extensive examination. "Beyond Zero Emissions" recent report "Repowering Port Augusta" is highly commendable for outlining a range of important aspects. There are gaps in the report. For example, employment opportunities extend way beyond just the construction and operation phases; tourism and technology training at the local and regional levels has not been countenanced. Also, unlocking the massive funds held in superannuation accounts to fund such facilities should be critically examined. I've always felt that around 10% of super funds should be directed to national infrastructure building, so long as that 10% is conveyed in a fashion similar to Australian Government Bonds. 

A taboo subject that's scarcely discussed is the decline of the rural sector and the natural resources base in SA. I've been examining this aspect at my website

I'm far from confident about the long-term sustainability of the rural sector.

Hence, the conversion of existing facilities such as the power station using cutting edge technology will very likely have a huge impact on transitioning the rural SA economy from an agrarian model to a mixed industry one. SA, in my opinion, is at the crossroads. 

No project on its own can be considered in isolation; there are connections to a huge array of other complex aspects. Such is the case with energy supply in Australia. 

To conclude, I exhort you to take up the issue of conversion of the Port Augusta power stations to solar thermal, and persuade your colleagues accordingly to support further extensive studies into this project at the earliest possible time. This is vital for the future of provincial SA. Let Port Augusta be the "light on the hill" for Australia's clean energy future.

Des Menz

Benbournie via Clare SA

PS  In my very early working days in the early-mid 1970's I lived at Port Augusta. It was back in the bad old days of sulphur emissions that enveloped Port Augusta from time-to-time. It was putrid and pungent. This is what I mean about 19th century technology and low-grade fossil fuel use. There is no place for them in the Australian or global context. The alternatives are exceedingly better … whatever the cost. It's time for change!

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