Calls are growing for public funds to save a solar-thermal power station planned for Port Augusta after the collapse of the $650 million project.
SolarReserve has told the South Australian government it can’t get the required finance for the 150-megawatt power plant and will now try to sell its proposal to another group.
But SA Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young has called on the state and federal governments to intervene and ensure the development is “saved, fixed and funded”.
“South Australians would be proud to be the owners of the country’s first baseload solar thermal plant,” Senator Hanson-Young said on Friday.
“A publicly-owned solar thermal plant would be a boon for jobs at a time when they are desperately needed in our state.”
Conservation SA said the project was “too big to fail”.
The group’s chief executive Craig Wilkins said the loss of the project was a devastating blow to the people of Port Augusta who worked so hard to bring it to their town.
“A range of politicians from all sides of politics have built their energy credibility on the back of securing this project,” he said.
“It’s now time for them to step up and deliver.”
SA Energy Minister Dan van Holst Pellekaan said he remained a strong supporter of solar thermal technology.
“But unfortunately SolarReserve has confirmed that it cannot be the company to do this,” he said.
“I know that this news will be a concern for the local people and businesses of Port Augusta.”
The Australian Youth Climate Coalition questioned what had happened to the federal funding for the solar thermal proposal that was promised in 2016 and urged the state government to continue to look to renewable energy and not fossil fuels.
“This is what happens when parties play politics with renewable energy policy, you create uncertainty in the market and communities like Port Augusta get left behind,” campaigns director Kelly Albion said.
SolarReserve had planned to use thousands of mirrored panels to concentrate sunlight onto a central receiver at the top of a 220-metre high tower.
The process heats molten salt to 565C with the heat used to generate steam, drive a turbine and produce electricity, even when the sun doesn’t shine.
The company also signed a contract with the previous state government to supply energy to power its hospitals, schools and other public services.
Mr van Holst Pellekaan said the new government would immediately return to the market to secure its future electricity needs.