For the past five years we’ve been tracking the superb renewable energy activism of the Port Augusta community in South Australia in their quest for a solar thermal power station.
2016 marked the end of six decades of coal-fired power generation at Port Augusta and now we finally have the announcement of a replacement that will provide dispatchable renewable energy, using CSP (Concentrated Solar Power) technology.
It’s quite brave leadership from the South Australian State Government. They’ve had to put up with a year of denigration and ridicule from the Federal Government for an ambitious transition-to-renewables program. But they’ve pushed on relentlessly, culminating in the announcement of the world’s biggest battery storage last month and now the solar with storage plant announced this week.
To protect Australians from worsening climate impacts (eg more destructive storms, intense heatwaves and worsening bushfire conditions) and in line with our Paris Agreement commitments and carbon budget constraints, Australia needs pathways to transition as rapidly as possible away from coal, oil and gas to reach net zero emissions by 2050.
But the Finkel review has little to say about our Paris Agreement commitments. Instead it focuses on ensuring a reliable electricity grid and reducing the price of electricity.
Brian: Your Port Augusta plans outlined in your June 2016 launch were for 1,700 collector tower modules which were expected to generate 110MW in winter and 170MW in summer. Is that still the plan?
Steve: The proposal is now to stage the project starting with a 100MW power station with 800 modules. This would do just under 50MW for 24 hours in winter and over 70MW in summer. More importantly, it will do 100MW for shorter times per day (peak hours) which is when the need is greatest.
This configuration could (would) be “cut and pasted” 5 times to give 500MW and completely replace the old to power station. Continue reading →
Leaving at a more civilized hour from the youth hostel led to a slightly less civilized trip in the shuttle bus from the RER station. Queuing to get past security gave me an idea of the sheer numbers that the organisers are dealing with at the COP21 site at Le Bourget.
Hard to imagine so many meetings, conversations, information and people can fit into a single day. I guess stalwarts who’ve attended numerous COPs take it in their stride.
Today began with a short briefing for our Climate Action Network Australia (CANA) team, before we walked in to meet Leader of the Opposition, Bill Shorten in one of the formal meetings room available for delegations and side meetings.
An early start, walking with the AYCC/SEED crew to Gare du Nord under streetlights and a sinking moon, since we’d heard it might be difficult to get in today with all the leaders in town.
On the shuttle bus (navette), I met Yhro from Niger. We discussed deforestation, desertification and the unsustainable use of groundwater (nappe phreatique).
My entry into Le Bourget COP21 venue was slow while security officers took an inordinate interest in the Catholic Earthcare and Multifaith SA banners, but I was allowed through once they’d been closely scrutinized and deemed harmless.
In October 2012 I reported for this blog on Adelaide’s Rally for Solar, a remarkable day of climate action that saw 80 activists complete a two-week, 322-kilometre walk that had begun in Port Augusta. It was, and is, hoped that the South Australian town will one day host a solar thermal power station in lieu of the ageing brown coal-fired plants which have been at the heart of Port Augusta’s electricity generation since the 1950s.
Thank you all so much for coming. I’d like to add my acknowledgement to the Kaurna people and acknowledge their sovereignty was never ceded.
Three years ago I attended the United Nations Climate Change Negotiations in Cancun, Mexico. It was there standing alongside people from places like Fiji and Nepal – whose homes were already being impacted by climate change and hearing how they were organizing to fight for theirs and our future – that I learnt how important it is that our movement listens to the people being most impacted by climate change and the burning of fossil fuels, whether it’s rising sea levels, extreme weather events or the high rates of cancer that plague coal communities.
It was this lesson that led me to dedicate myself to working alongside the Port Augusta community to campaign for a replacement of the ageing coal stations on the edge of their town with Australia’s first concentrated solar thermal plants with storage.
On our first HCI day, Shilshila Acharya gave us a briefing on the Hamri Bahini (our little sisters) Green Angel project. She’s been intimately involved since the project’s beginning – astoundingly only seven months ago, in February 2013!
By linking the solutions to two intractable problems – the plight of Nepali women working overseas and significant plastic bag pollution in the Kathmandu Valley – the Himalayan Climate Initiative (HCI) has created a great project.
First, however, we were taken out to Kirtipur on the hilly outskirts of Kathmandu to meet a most remarkable man and learn how his compassionate love is changing the world for the better, one child at a time.