Low Carbon Investment Plan

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS (15:22:30): I rise today to speak about the most critical issue confronting our planet, which is, of course, the challenge of climate change. It is a problem that has caused undeniable changes to our environment, our atmosphere and our lives, with intensified cyclones, droughts, increased temperatures and the acidification of oceans with methane plumes rising up from beneath the ocean floor.

Scientists have reported Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets melting at unprecedented rates and faster than they had previously predicted. Climate change has also been named as the single greatest security threat, with the American military writing warnings about its potential for causing global geopolitical instability.

We have a very difficult task ahead, so I rise today to commend the state government’s Low Carbon Investment Plan. This paper that has been presented is not a paper of aspirational ideas alone: it also sets out how South Australia will achieve its target of 50 per cent of electricity production through renewable energy by 2025. South Australia can and must, I believe, feature the world’s first carbon-neutral city and, in doing so, secure its future through sizeable investment in the renewable energy sector.

The writing has been on the wall for some time. We have heard about the devastating job losses, particularly those in Port Augusta’s power stations earlier this year. These are tough times for workers in this sector. They must be given every possible support to have a brighter future and a supported future. The expected closure of Port Augusta’s coal-powered stations is an opportunity, of course, to invest in concentrated solar thermal jobs. It is not just a challenge: it is an opportunity. We must repower our regions.

Notable measures included in the strategy paper of the state government, which I certainly support, are projections to broaden participation in solar ownership, including a 2014 pilot program delivering 1.5 kilowatts systems to 80 new houses in 11 regional towns, including Port Augusta, Port Pirie, Whyalla, Saddleworth, Peterborough, Jamestown, Laura, Gladstone, Melrose and Burra.

A multimillion dollar recovery plant is to be built and operated by Air Liquide at the AGL Torrens site to capture and purify up to 50,000 tonnes of carbon emissions from the power station each year for reuse by the industry to carbonate drinks and treat wastewater and public swimming pools, as well as energy storage for electric vehicles and battery systems.

I, for one, as a member of this place, look forward to the stakeholder consultation phase, which I understand is due for completion on 18 October this year ahead of the December 2015 launch of the Low Carbon Investment Plan for our state. It is vital that we accept this challenge. It is vital that we rise to this challenge.

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