A long time ago, I went to university in a South Australian town called Whyalla. Penned against the coast by a great expanse of desert, Whyalla is a mining town with hard men, tough women and pubs that play both kinds of music…AC/DC and The Angels.
Down the road is Port Augusta. Now, we considered Port Augusta pretty cool because they had a McDonalds…when we were really bored (which was a lot) we used to all chip in for the petrol money & take a drive over there for fries & fake-chicken nuggets. Ah, the days before everyone had a screen and wifi.
In Port Augusta there are two coal fired power plants that were nearing the end of their use and the owner, energy giant Alinta, were chucking around the idea of replacing them like-for-like. It was a renewable energy alliance formed by people from the town and various environmental, health and local government agencies that convinced Alinta that a solar thermal plant with storage was an economically viable alternative.
What this graphic doesn’t show is the stats – the construction and ongoing maintenance of a solar thermal plant will create over three times the jobs of a coal or gas plant, and 110 more ongoing jobs than the dirty alternatives. However, it must be noted that 200 jobs will be lost at the Leigh Creek Coal Mine down the road, but that’s outweighed by the 225 manufacturing jobs that will be created with a solar thermal plant. Exactly the same amount of power will be produced – 4650 GWh – but, of course, with close to zero emissions.
Why is this idea so exciting? Because it would be the first of it’s kind in Australia and all eyes will be on it to set the pace for the future of energy supply in our beautiful (and extremely sunny) continent.
So, well done Port Augusta…the absolute definition of a cool town.