Finally a bright idea


The State Liberals have described yesterday’s announcement that a solar thermal power station will be built near Port Augusta as a ray of sunshine in the Weatherill Government’s chaotic energy plan.

“I have long advocated for a solar thermal power station to be built near Port Augusta and welcome the State Government’s announcement that it will partner with the Federal Government to enable its construction,” said Shadow Minister for Energy Dan van Holst Pellekaan.

“The fact this new solar thermal plant won’t be operational until 2020 at the earliest highlights the foolishness of the government rejecting Alinta’s offer to keep the Northern Power Station operating until 2020 for just $8 million a year.

“Had Jay Weatherill kept the Northern Power Station open it would have enabled a smooth transition between the two technologies, in the process saving several hundred of jobs in the Port Augusta and Leigh Creek region.

“Had Jay Weatherill understood the economic damage the closure of the Northern Power Station would do he could have protected South Australians from the world’s most expensive electricity.

“Steven Marshall and the State Liberals have been calling for renewable generation with attached storage like solar thermal for years now.

“In 2012 I initiated a select committee to investigate solar thermal at Port Augusta which made it very clear that this opportunity was real.

“In February this year I wrote to Energy Minister and Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis saying that this is exactly what should be done.”

“Many local people have worked extremely hard over the last several years to convince the state government to take this action and I congratulate all of them for their dedication and persistence.”

The Federal Government had already committed to a $110 million equity investment in a solar thermal project at Port Augusta back in May.

The deal involves a 20-year contract with SolarReserve to supply the State Government’s electricity needs.

SolarReserve will construct a 150MW solar thermal plant, capable of providing 8 – 10 hours of storage.