The Climate Emergency Action Network of South Australia (CLEAN) is a grassroots climate action group, linked nationally with the Community Climate Network. CLEAN organises community actions, outreach and education in Adelaide and Port Augusta. CLEAN aims to help build a broad, popular climate movement and can assist Adelaide communities to start climate action groups, conduct presentations, or access information.
CLEAN believes in a fast transition to a zero carbon economy, with a just transition for Australian workers in affected industries. See our full position statement on this site.
SOLAR THERMAL FUTURE
Joy Baluch AM. Port Augusta
Australian history shows that visionaries are few and far between when it comes to building the infrastructure of this nation.
In the depths of the world depression Prime Minister Andrew Fisher constructed the Trans Australian Railway by establishing the Commonwealth Bank. In 1949 Prime Minister Ben Chifley initiated the greatest engineering feat in the nation using new and unknown technology to undertake the construction of the Snowy Mountains Hydro Electric scheme which took 25 years to complete.
100% renewable energy with zero emissions is achievable in Australia within 10 years if we had a Government with the necessary physical attributes to take concerted action. However…cutting down tall poppies has become a national sport and political correctness has both clouded our judgement and made us into followers instead of Leaders
There is no better time than the present for a statesman to emerge and drag this nation out of the political morass into which it has sunk, and move Australia into the 21st Century. We are on the brink of a technological revolution that is beyond our comprehension and Solar Thermal Power is just one part of it.
The fact is, therefore that we have to be masters of our own destiny. With out natural advantage Australia can and should be positioning itself as a global super power for future prosperity.
No city has more to gain from this shift to renewable clean energy than Port Augusta. It has first rate resources of solar power, dependable sea breezes and an existing high capacity grid connection…all of the ingredients to become an energy Hub.
Solar Thermal plants are baseload solar power, which uses mirrors to concentrate the sun’s energy to create heat. In turn that heat is stored to generate electricity 24 hours a day. They are commercial off the shelf technology…so it is ready to go now. The materials required are concrete, glass and steel…of which this nation has an abundance,
Because they are thermal plants they have the same turbines and generators as coal fired plants. But it would be best to commence with a Greenfield site. They can be air cooled so will use about a tenth of the water of coal fired plants. There would be approximately 7 power towers to replace the existing unit and there is this great opportunity to build them now with the funding from the Federal Government’s Clean Energy Financing Corporation.
Gas plants are cheaper at first…but they still pollute the air, harm people’s health and the bottom line is that they are now labour intensive…unlike solar thermal. Also 30% of the nation’s gas is earmarked for domestic use. 70% is tied to the competitive export markets. The domestic market price will keep parallel with global oil prices…which means that the cost will continue to rise.
Baseload Solar Thermal Plants would be a National Building project…the first since the Snowy Mountains Hydro Scheme.
In 1970 I entered Local Government on a Health platform. My aim was to get the tunnel visioned City Fathers of the day to push the equally tunnelled vision State Politicians to connect precipitators to Playford ‘A’ Station. ‘A’ Station that spewed 600 tonnes of fly ash over the City annually which resulted in the rapid increase in respiratory and asthmatic problems of all age groups.
This community is now reaping the results of the past 40 years of the emissions of Leigh Creek coal and medical statistics prove this. The exercise of convincing the Dunstan Government to connect these precipitators took 7 years. Over the past 42 years thousands of our community have died providing cheap power to this State, The incidence of lung cancer in Port Augusta is double the State average…and it is an insult to our intelligence that the Minister for Health attributes these statistics to tobacco smoking. Coal fired power stations cause lung cancer and dirty coal causes more lung cancer. Playford Station is the dirtiest power station in the nation with Northern a close contender.
This community cannot wait for the Carbon Tax or for the deposits of 2nd grade Leigh Creek coal to be exhausted. We need a Federal Government with both the guts and other physical attributes to make changes now. This will need to have Bi-partisan support.
The construction of a Solar Thermal generator in Port Augusta City Council will mean that Port Augusta will lead the way for clean power generation across the nation. It will enable us to establish factories to build this new technology Any job losses from the transition would be absorbed in the manufacturing industry,
SO WHAT PRICE DO WE PUT UPON HUMAN LIFE.
The emotion of cost and job losses therefore should not enter into the equation.
Port Augusta is an Arid Smart community…what we need is an Arid Smart nation led by a Federal Government with courage and conviction to lead us into the 21st Century.
YOU AND I NEED TO SEE A VISIONARY COMING OUT OF CANBERRA TO LEAD US INTO A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE.
We therefore have to be Masters of our own destiny and show that Visionary that he has the support of the entire community. Each and every one of us have a responsibility to ourselves and families to flood the letterboxes of every politician…State and Federal..demanding that they put the health of our communities before all else. This should be fully supported by academics, professionals, industry, business and especially Unions. After all their members lives are at risk.
POLITICIANS IN THE THREE TIERS OF GOVERNMENT WERE ELECTED TO SERVE US…NOT THEMSELVES OR THEIR POLITICAL MASTERS,
Over the past decade or more this Council and Community has trail-blazed social issues that were too hard for the other two tiers of Government, Those issues were hard fought but were adopted by other communities across the nation.
So let us commence this process now. This could be a win-win for everyone and an opportunity for politicians of all persuasions to write their names into the history books and become leaders in clean Solar Thermal power generation.
STATIONARY ENERGY PLAN
- A ten year roadmap for 100% renewable energy
- Baseload energy supplied by renewable sources
- affordable at $8 per household per week
This exciting report was released this week and has received some good coverage by the media. Matthew Wright, Beyond Zero Emissions with Patrick Hearps of the University of Melbourne are the lead authors
A MUST READ
To read a copy on screen, or order a hard copy, go to
For some media reports try these
Here is the Forward of the Report…..
“Twenty-eight billion is a big number. Measured in tonnes it is a very heavy load. This figure is the amount of sediment eroded each year from all our mountains and carried by all our rivers to all our seas. And it is the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) we pump into the atmosphere each year from burning fossil fuels globally – enough to cover Australia in a blanket two metres thick. In dollars, it is just a little more than the extra annual investment needed to reconfigure Australia’s stationary energy system to have zero emissions in just 10 years time.
Each year the 28 billion tonnes of CO2 we make induces heating. The oceans are now heating at the phenomenal rate of 300 trillion watts. In frighteningly human terms that is equivalent to detonating five Hiroshima sized A-bombs every second, every day of every year.
To make 28 billion tonnes of CO2 we dig 7 billion tones of coal and suck countless gallons of oil and gas from the ground. In total we already excavate more rock from the Earth than nature does. With peak oil rapidly approaching, if not passed, BP’s Deepwater Horizon catastrophe attests to the huge risks entailed in maintaining production.
The rate we consume energy to emit that CO2 is 16 trillion watts. That is already about 1/3 of the energy released by plate tectonics – the process that pushes continents around the globe over geological time making mountains and earthquakes as it goes. On current growth trajectories we are set to surpass this amount of energy by 2060.
Each year we are adding a bit under 1% to the atmospheric CO2 load, enhancing the greenhouse effect by a small fraction of a percent. By trapping just a tiny extra fraction of the incoming solar energy, we are heating not only the atmosphere, but also the oceans and land.
Such numbers give a very real sense that we humans are now operating as a geological change agent. But the scary thing is we have only just begun. Energy use is increasing exponentially, doubling every 34 years so that it will increase by 800% in a century. Curtailing energy growth will not be easy with 2 billion people already in energy poverty and 2 billion more added to the human number by mid century.
So how will we cater for our future energy needs?
One answer stares us in the face. Effectively converting about 0.06% of the solar energy that hits the land would meet the entire global energy demand.
But aren’t there problems with renewable energy? Isn’t it too expensive and unreliable? After all, the wind doesn’t blow all the time and the sun doesn’t shine at night.
Currently, advanced solar thermal power with molten salt storage, capable of producing power on demand day or night, is about four times more expensive than the cheapest coal fired power plants. But the cost of new technologies always reduces with large-scale rollout. The 2003 USbased Sargent & Lundy report anticipated solar thermal electricity costs would reach parity with coal fired power once 8.7 GW of capacity was installed – just a bit under Victoria’s stationary energy capacity today.
So far, there has not even been modest stimulus for solar thermal power. The Global Financial Crisis is partly to blame, but political will is the resource in shortest supply. The BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill may have changed that.
So what if we were to try to build a 100% renewable energy system to power the Australian economy in just 10 years? How could we possibly do that, and what would it cost?
That is the challenge outlined in Australian Sustainable Energy – Zero Carbon Australia Stationary Energy Plan.
Zero Carbon Australia outlines a coherent and thoroughly researched blueprint showing how 100% renewable energy is achievable using technologies that are commercially available today: wind power and concentrating solar thermal with molten salt storage. It goes through the options, costs
and benefits, confirming that a 10 year transformation of the stationary energy sector is achievable and affordable. This will also add huge stimulus to the new green economy and create jobs.
Zero Carbon Australia demonstrates that both cost and variability can be readily addressed, and exposes as myth the frequent argument that we need coal, gas or nuclear to provide baseload electricity. This is achieved by first smoothing power output across the grid via geographically dispersed production, and secondly providing dispatchable “back up” power from the molten salt storage at solar
thermal power plants. Our nation continent, stretching across climate and time zones, appears ready made for this.
Zero Carbon Australia provides a big vision – Australia as a
renewable energy powerhouse. But 28 billion tonnes of CO2 is a big load, and getting bigger. Therefore a big vision for an alternative energy system is precisely what is needed.
Zero Carbon Australia is an extraordinary and pragmatic roadmap to a new and more sustainable energy system in Australia, and ultimately our region. I recommend it to all who are truly interested in securing Australia’s energy future.
Forward by Mike Sandiford
Professor of Geology
Director, Melbourne Energy Institute
University of Melbourne
- Free online climate course – http://www.climatecouncil.org.
au/free-online-course- everything-you-ve-ever-wanted- to-know-about-climate-change
- Solar Citizens is working to protect the rights of million of Australian solar owners to cut bills, create cleaner power and take energy generation back into our own hands.
com.au/story/2129310/repower- port-augusta-keeps-on-pushing/ ?cs=12
- CSIRO and Bureau of Meteorology’s latest State of the Climate report http://www.abc.net.au/news/
2014-03-04/climate-extremes- increasing-carbon-dioxide- levels-rise-report/5295876