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Solar plans for Port Augusta win awards

26th Nov 2012

Solar thermal power plant plans for Port Augusta have won awards from a public think tank.

The Civil Trust, which engages in social and environmental issues, applauded proposals to replace fuel-intensive coal-powered facilities in the area with sustainable alternatives.

And so the organisation endorsed the idea with its inaugural 'opportunities' category award, which highlights the state of South Australia's most promising project.

Entitled 'Repower Port Augusta', the initiative also scooped the people's choice accolade.

Trust chairman Darian Hiles said the blueprints, which include the construction of six solar thermal structures and 95 wind turbines, would be a significant boost for the region.

"It would create 1,800 jobs, alleviate the health impacts of coal, save five million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions a year and provide stable electricity prices and energy security," he explained.

Alinta Energy owns the existing power plants - Northern and Playford B - and has examined the possibility of pursuing solar thermal options.

However, according to the Herald Sun, the project was not financially viable after the federal government decided to pull out of buying Playford B.

So, the upshot is that Alinta is seeking $65 million from the Commonwealth in an effort to generate some of the $200 million costs associated with building a 40-50 MW solar thermal facility.

The 'Repower Port Augusta' scheme gained support from a number of politicians, campaign groups and the general public.

In fact, some 80 supporters recently walked from Port Augusta to Adelaide in an effort to raise awareness for the issue.

They trekked to Parliament House and rallied outside with other advocates of renewable energy.

Greens senator for South Australia Penny Wright also said everyone in the state is "overwhelmingly behind" the project.

Alinta chief executive Jeff Dimery is set to appear before a state parliament select committee this month to talk about the initiative.

Posted by Mike Peacock

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