Innovation component within Pt Augusta Energy Park

Opportunity: The Port Augusta Energy Park proposal for a combined 300MW wind and solar PV power station represents an investment of around $300 million or more. The project’s assessment of its local economic development potential promises some $45million in construction investment with some 600 jobs and 20 ongoing jobs over the longer term.

I think we can get more than just construction, maintenance and operation work out of such a great investment.And the key word here is innovation. Our competitors interstate or overseas can do the drudge work as well as us but our smarts can give us a competitive edge. All this technology comes from overseas, I hear you say. Yes and that doesn’t mean that this plant in Port Augusta can’t offer learning and improvement opportunities.

The developer has spent some time developing a hybrid wind and solar PV proposal working with coastal winds so that it can offer a power station with energy diversity into the South Australian market. That means the Energy Park will produce electricity at times when the large Snowtown and Jamestown wind farms might not have wind available.

Experimenting with storage or working with demand management aggregators might improve that offering. There may be opportunities to include community owned energy onsite (eg financial model innovation) and to incorporate new solar and wind technologies during the test phase. A facility with an innovation mindset would establish Port Augusta as a place to come for world leadership in renewable energy power stations.

Policy proposal for ensuring an innovation component within the $500m Pt Augusta Energy Park development:

To the extent that Government can increase local benefits through the development approval process and any contracts to purchase the site’s electricity, this should be their highest priority. Building innovation outcomes into these contracts and approvals is essential.

The project has the opportunity to be a lead customer. As a Thinker in residence, Goran Roos proposed that our Governments and other large corporates needed to drive innovation by quarantining some spend  for innovation. (eg 2% of all procurement like the long-running and successful SBIR program in the USA) This means different procurement processes since the lead customer and the providers need to walk together in implementing, testing, fixing, learning etc through experimental solutions. But it also means both parties come out the other side better off.

What will it cost?

A 2% premium would create a small but consistent fund ($1 million per year?) for developing the leading edge of renewable projects through this Energy Park.

What benefits will it generate?

The innovation fund would be spent in South Australia and implemented on site.

The knowledge and learning would benefit the local community immediately.

The developer and the businesses involved in producing solutions on site would have the opportunity to finesse products to sell across the globe.

Your Turn: What do you think of this idea? If you like it or you want to build on it please help it circulate:

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About Heather

I am an energy and climate change specialist with a background in industrial energy efficiency and climate change policy.
This entry was posted in Climate change policy, Policy Ideas and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Innovation component within Pt Augusta Energy Park

  1. Pingback: Transition for Port Augusta | changing weather by Heather Smith

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