Port Augusta solar thermal plant scrapped

solar thermal Port Augusta
A solar thermal project in the California Mojave Desert, United States.

The $650 million Aurora solar thermal power station planned for Port Augusta will not go ahead after SolarReserve failed to secure funding for the project.

South Australian Energy Minister Dan van Holst Pellekaan said SolarReserve contacted him on Sunday and said it would not be able to achieve financial close by the May 31 deadline set by the Government.

The deadline had already been extended from its original date of February 1, 2018.

Mr van Holst Pellekaan said the Government had done “everything it possibly can to support this project”, including extending deadlines, agreeing to changes to the project to add photovoltaicsolar panels and introducing SolarReserve to potential financiers.

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Community group Repower Port Augusta has called for a crisis meeting with the SA and federal governments to save the solar thermal power station, stating without it, the Port Augusta community will lose its major hope for the future with 650 construction and 50 permanent jobs gone.

Chairperson of Repower Port Augusta who worked at Port Augusta Coal Fired Power Station for 17 years Gary Rowbottom said without immediate action from the South Australian and Federal Governments, the future of Port Augusta is at serious risk. 

“The solar thermal power station is a lifeline to our community following the closure of the former coal-fired power station that we cannot afford to lose. It is also a project that was supported by all levels of Government,” he said.   

“This would be a devastating blow for our community already battling very high rates of unemployment – particularly youth unemployment.” 

South Australian Labor MP Tom Koutsantonis says plans for a NSW/SA interconnector was the cause of the project getting axed.