Plans to build a major 375MW hybrid wind and solar plant near Port Augusta in South Australia have won approval from the state government. Project developer DP Energy said in a statement released on August 5 that the green light meant it could now deliver one of the “largest and most significant” hybrid renewables projects in the Southern Hemisphere, including 59 wind turbines and almost 400 hectares of solar PV arrays. The area is renowned for its rich solar and wind resources.
Australia's large energy companies appear to prefer to accept fines for not building renewable energy rather than build it and weaken their investments in coal and gas generation. When the Tony Abbott government passed legislation to reduce the Renewable Energy Target (RET) by about 20% in June 2015, some supporters of renewables hoped that an end to policy uncertainty would free up finance for investment and get planned projects into the construction phase.
Community still opposes pulp mill Friends of the Tamar Valley and Pulp the Mill have responded to news that “at least one binding offer for the [Gunns pulp mill] licence from overseas” has been received, saying community opposition to the pulp mill is just as strong now as when the project was first proposed more than ten years ago.
About 50 people rallied outside minister for climate change Mark Butler's office in Adelaide on August 24 to make climate an election issue. Organised by the Climate Emergency Action Network (CLEAN), the rally called on the government to: build solar thermal in Port Augusta; end all fossil fuel subsidies; increase the Renewable Energy Target to 100%; put electricity supply under community control; and refit the SA car industry to build solar thermal components and public transport infrastructure.
Fifteen hundred people rallied on September 30 in Adelaide to support solar thermal power in Port Augusta to replace the ageing coal stations, set to retire. They welcomed about 80 people who walked the 328-kilometre journey from Port Augusta to draw attention to the issue. Protesters rallied to show their support for a switch to solar thermal and becoming a world leader in renewable energy, rather than replacing dirty coal with gas.
Right now, there is an opportunity to slash Australia’s carbon emissions by 5 million tonnes a year in one stroke. The city of Port Augusta in South Australia has all the right conditions to make it Australia’s first baseload renewable energy hub. The two coal-fired power stations at Port Augusta are getting old. Industry experts say they may be forced to close as soon as 2015.
More than 300 people of all ages gathered in Adelaide on September 24 calling for concentrating solar thermal (CST) technology to replace Port Augusta’s ageing coal fired power stations. The action was organised by several environment groups, including the Australian Youth Climate Coalition, the Climate Emergency Action Network, the Socialist Alliance, Resistance and the Young Greens. The crowd met in Adelaide’s Rymill Park and took to the streets in a colourful, rhythmic parade, featuring a moving solar thermal tower.