PORT Augusta, situated at the head of Spencer Gulf in South Australia is home to approximately 5000 people.
It is also home to the northern and playford B power stations, which are fired by brown coal. These power stations provide 40 per cent of SA’s power. They also contribute significantly to the state's carbon emissions.
Fortunately, both power stations are now closed or are destined for closure. The closure of playford B occurred in July this year and the northern power station will close by 2015. The choice of replacement is between solar thermal or gas-fired power.
A recent vote was taken to determine the wishes of the people of Port Augusta concerning their choice of energy replacement.
The people made it clear what sort of energy future they want for their town by voting 4053 to 43 in favour of solar.
To make their wishes clear to the SA government, 80 solar crusaders walked the 382 kilometres from Port Augusta to Adelaide in 14 days, where they were joined in Adelaide on September 30 by 1000 supporters on a march to the steps of the Adelaide State Parliament.
The crowd represented a diverse cross section of society united in its support of clean renewable energy. Although the atmosphere was festive, the message was serious. Everyone was there to support a demand that Port Augusta be repowered using renewable energy.
The proposed renewable energy installation will consist of six solar thermal power stations with storage and 95 wind turbines. This combination of wind and solar has the capacity to replace the energy output of the coal power stations including 24 hour baseload power.
Switching to renewable energy has many benefits for the local Port Augusta community.
The proposed solar thermal wind power mix would create in excess of 1800 jobs, far more than a gas power station.
In addition, a renewable energy future would alleviate the health problems the people of Port Augusta suffer as the result of pollution caused through burning coal.
Implementation of the Port Augusta renewable energy blueprint is the best chance to get solar thermal with storage built in Australia.
Building solar thermal in Port Augusta would elevate SA as a world leader in renewable energy and make Port Augusta an iconic global hub for baseload solar power generation.
It would also be a great first step towards a national transition from fossil fuel energy technology, and would open the door to the construction of more solar thermal power plants around Australia.
It is important that Australia continues to strive towards a sustainable energy future that puts people and the planet before profits.
The repower Port Augusta project is a shining example of how this can be achieved.