Port Augusta Solar Thermal Storage

Motion moved by the Hon Tammy Franks MLC
Legislative Council Wednesday 12 April 2016
 

PORT AUGUSTA SOLAR THERMAL STORAGE  

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS (16:44):  I move:

  That this council—

  1. Acknowledges the work of the Port Augusta community in advocating for solar thermal with storage as a 24-hour renewable solution for SA's power and for local jobs post the closure of Alinta Energy coal power station;
  2. Applauds the work of the local community and unions in calling for an economically viable and environmentally sustainable transition for Port Augusta and other coal-dependent communities;
  3. Calls on the state government to use every avenue available to use its purchasing power to facilitate solar thermal with storage capacity in Port Augusta; and
  4. Urges the Turnbull government to deliver on its promise to make solar thermal in Port Augusta the 'number one priority' for its clean energy funds as announced before the 2016 federal election.

The Greens introduced this motion to support not only the people of Port Augusta who are advocating for solar thermal with storage as a 24 hour renewable solution for South Australia's power, but, of course, for local jobs post the closure of Alinta Energy coal power station. The Port Augusta community, and the former Alinta Energy workers and their union are calling for an economically viable and environmentally sustainable transition for Port Augusta and for other coal-dependent communities.

 The good folk of Port Augusta have asked Premier Weatherill to use the state government's power procurement currently up for tender to buy power from the proposed solar thermal project in our state's north. For the past five years, the residents of Port Augusta have been asking for a solar solution to secure our state's energy needs. Why is this government so slow and so reluctant to support the solar thermal project to address our state's energy needs? Why are people still waiting and why can't we give power to the people?

 The state government has recognised that more energy storage is essential to complement the wind farms and solar plants replacing the state's ageing coal and gas plants and they have committed some $550 million in their plan to ease the state's power supply, and, indeed, hopefully lower prices. This is somewhat welcome news, but where is the follow-through on solar thermal? When it comes to solar thermal, it was a mere by-line in that much-lauded Weatherill plan.

 I call on the state government to use every avenue available to use its purchasing power to facilitate solar thermal with storage capacity in Port Augusta. The people have waited long enough and our state has waited long enough for a solution to our energy needs that is sustainable. The Greens have vocally supported the state government's policy for renewable energy uptake in our state and today we call on the Premier to continue on this pathway and to support solar thermal power for Port Augusta in a timely manner.

 As a party, the Greens also welcome the federal government's announcement of $110 million concessional loans to the solar thermal project in Port Augusta and we acknowledge that this was negotiated by Senator Xenophon as part of a deal in his supporting the government's tax cuts reform. This is an area, I think, that has been a long time in the making, has great community support and, indeed, could enjoy not just bipartisan support in this parliament, but cross-party broad support in the parliament and beyond.

 The Liberal Party, the Nick Xenophon Team, and One Nation have made reducing energy costs and improving the security of supply a significant part of their political messaging here in our state of South Australia. We want to see those words turned into action. We want to see a Labor government backing the solar thermal project in Port Augusta. 'It's time', we keep being told in the Labor plan; well it's time, Labor, to switch on. The spotlight is now on the Premier to do what is right for our state and to support solar thermal for Port Augusta.

            Debate adjourned on motion of Hon. T.T. Ngo.

 

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