NSW Greens call for solar thermal power

The NSW Greens announced their Solar Thermal Power Plant initiative on March 13: a policy to build three baseload solar thermal power plants in NSW and create new green jobs.

At the official launch of the Greens' state election campaign at Balmain Town Hall, Greens MP and lead upper house candidate David Shoebridge announced:

“The Greens will work in the next parliament to deliver three solar baseload thermal power stations with heat storage to be built in the state's central West, funded by green infrastructure bonds.

“This will drive the shift to renewable energy and create thousands of green jobs that will tackle climate change, stimulate the NSW economy and grow regional jobs.”

All three of the proposed solar thermal power stations would be 200 megawatts and grid connected.

The Greens proposed to immediately commission a six-month technology and site study for the plants. Construction on the first plant could start by March 2012, to be completed within three years, and construction of the next two plants would start in March 2013 and March 2014.

The Greens said plants of this scale will create 5700 new ongoing jobs each, and an additional 4500 new jobs at peak construction.

The first plant is expected to cost $2.1 billion to build. The second and third plants are expected to cost less at $1.8 and $1.06 billion respectively.

This policy initiative comes less than a month since Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE) released a briefing paper targeting the NSW elections. The paper outlined proposals for NSW featured in the Zero Carbon Australia 2020 Stationary Energy Plan: a plan to transition Australia to 100% renewables within 10 years, using commercially available wind and solar technologies.

The briefing paper proposed four concentrating solar thermal with storage plant (CST+) sites — in Bourke, Broken Hill, Dubbo and Moree. After 10 years, BZE peg these sites at between 3000 and 6000 megawatt capacity.

But while the BZE plan does not stipulate how the CST+ should be funded or operated, the Solar Thermal Power Plant initiative proposes public funding, ownership and operation.

Shoebridge said the Greens planned to “protect public assets not sell them, invest in quality public services” and “stand up for the environment”.