Push to think big on solar

Bhodi Mackenzie, 6, of The Channon, gives his support to the Lismore Climate Action Group.
Bhodi Mackenzie, 6, of The Channon, gives his support to the Lismore Climate Action Group. Marc Stapelberg

LISMORE residents put hard-hats and construction worker outfits on to show the Federal Government they're ready to get to work on "big solar" energy projects.

The phrase "big solar" refers to the use of mirrors to reflect sun into the top of a power tower. The sun heats molten salt in tubes up to 650°C, which is sent to a storage tank to be distributed as energy.

The 100% Renewable Big Solar Campaign is a national campaign and the Northern Rivers branch was launched at Lismore's Heritage Park yesterday.

Since last week, other localised campaigns have occurred around the country. Campaigners want 2000 megawatts of coal-fired power replaced with big solar energy by 2015.

Lismore campaign organiser Tom Driftwood said big solar needed politicians' support to be implemented.

"You can source it publicly through the government, which is how a lot of large infrastructure has been historically done, or you can create the policy environment that makes it viable for investors," he said.

"This industry has suffered from the constant chopping and changing of rules. It scares investors off. They need consistency for the next 20 years."

Mr Driftwood said big solar projects would help revive Australia's dying manufacturing sector.

"It's cheaper to manufacture the components for big solar than to import them, so that would grow a manufacturing industry in Australia, a skills base and all the other jobs required," he said.

The campaign has been launched in the wake of the Federal Government's decision to axe a $320m scheme which encouraged people to install renewable energy hot water systems.

Mr Driftwood said the campaign would keep pressure on the Government to deliver on promises of developing a strong renewable energy sector in Australia.

"They've supported local small-scale solar that's not a threat to fossil fuels but we want them to take it a step further," he said.

Topics:  australian government environment green heritage park lismore solar power

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