Whyalla and Port Augusta could be a renewable s powerhouse, says local mayor


The mayor of a South Australian regional port city built on the steel industry and iron ore mining says it could pair with a neighbouring centre to become the nation's hub for renewable energy.

Whyalla Mayor Lyn Breuer said she hoped her city could team up with Port Augusta 80 kilometres away to make the plan a reality.

Regional South Australian cities have seen several energy projects announced over the past year, with construction on a new solar thermal power station in Port Augusta to start early this year.

In October last year, Whyalla steelworks owner Sanjeev Gupta announced that he had approved a planworth up to $700 million for solar, battery storage and pumped hydro, with 200 megawatts of solar photovoltaics at Whyalla.

Mr Gupta is an Indian-born, Cambridge-educated, environmentally-minded billionaire.

When he took over the struggling steelworks last year he said the steelworks had an "exciting future".

Ms Breuer said there were lots of big possibilities 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."

Ms Breuer said wind power and hydro power were two options the town was looking into.

Already a renewables hub

"We just need to get the approvals and we can go ahead."

Port Augusta's mayor Sam Johnson said he believed the region was already becoming 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.

"There's some really great synergies between Port Augusta and Whyalla in what's becoming a new and exciting industry."