Whyalla looks to green future
The mayor of Whyalla wants the town to shift from a heavy industry centre to a hub for renewable energy.
Several energy projects were announced for regional South Australian towns last year, including the construction on a new solar thermal power station at Port Augusta due to start early this year.
Whyalla steelworks owner Sanjeev Gupta has a plan for a solar, battery storage and pumped hydro project worth up to $700 million, which includes 200 megawatts of solar photovoltaics at Whyalla.
Whyalla Mayor Lyn Breuer says there are a lot of big opportunities for the city.
“I think our industry will diversify,” she said.
“We'll no longer be just an industrial and a mining town, there's a whole range of other options open for us.”
Cr Breuer wants her city to team up with Port Augusta 80 kilometres away to help big ideas come to fruition.
“We just need to get the approvals and we can go ahead.”
Port Augusta’s Mayor Sam Johnson would like to see the region continue to grow as a hub for renewable energy.
“Port Augusta will, and I believe actually is becoming the renewable capital of Australia and there's no doubt that Whyalla is a direct link into that,” he said.
“There's some really great synergies between Port Augusta and Whyalla in what's becoming a new and exciting industry.
“The upper Spencer Gulf cities have all worked very strongly and collectively together to make sure that we are all prosperous and make sure that we are all going to be sustainable moving into the future.
“We're all in this together.”
The Liberal member for Grey, Rowan Ramsey, is urging caution.
“At this stage, most renewable energy is intermittent,” he said.
“Whilst it's sometimes predictable it's not always and it leads to short term supply.”
Mr Ramsey says renewable technology should be backed up with gas, diesel or energy storage.
“You couple [back up power and energy storage] together and the region at the upper end of the Spencer Gulf could be a real hotspot for renewable energy,” he said.