Ode to South Australia's last coal power plant | RenewEconomy

Ode to South Australia’s last coal power plant

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As the sun sets on SA coal power, Gary Rowbottom – who worked 17yrs at Port Augusta Power Station – reflects on Australia’s energy transition.

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Gary Rowbottom worked at the Northern brown coal power generator in Port Augusta, South Australia, for 17 years. On Monday, the power station closed. Rowbottom is now looking forward to a renewable energy future. He sent this through to RenewEconomy.

Now our time here has come,

We are all done now, out on our bum.

Sixty Two years of power generation in Port Augusta

Now ends, proudly we go to our final muster,

For most of us it is sad, but happy for some.


Silent now lay the huge turbogenerators

Awaiting the pleasure of the demolition contractors.

The boilers are cold, there will be no more steam,

To see it pulled down will make some people scream,

It will all go, to the last valve, the last actuator.

We’ve had our troubles, many a steam leak,

Oft times the Instros, the controls they did tweak.

Our work here generating power was noble,

Safety was our watchword, not here a Chernobyl.

And mostly we were back on line in under a week.

The reliable management of the steam turbine,

Will no longer be a responsibility of mine,

Churning out Two Seven Two Megawatts at its peak,

Its biggest failure, a casing steam leak.

No need to fuss now, its life cut short of design

The last MegaWatt has been dispatched,

To the electricity market we are now mismatched.

The way of the energy future is renewable,

Most of the experts, think it is doable.

The possibilities have barely been scratched.

It seems we could not earn any profit,

So what to do now? Well, off it!

So how can we be sure to have enough power?

There’s no need to be glum, bitter or sour.

I think we need a concentrating solar thermal tower!

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  1. Peter Fagan 4 years ago

    Thank you Gary for sharing your feelings. You have tended a mighty machine for many years, doing your best for the community that needed the power it produced. It must be painful to see the great machine turned off and a way of life come to a sudden end.
    This is not a new experience for mankind. In ages past, a farmer would feel the same emotions when having to retire a loyal draught horse.
    I particularly appreciate your capacity to accept change and look to the future in a positive way – not to mention the rhyming of “noble” and “Chernobyl” – that is definitely one for the textbooks!
    Best wishes for a prosperous solar future for you and your workmates in sunny Port Augusta.

    • Gary Rowbottom 4 years ago

      Thanks very much Peter. Yes a time of mixed emotions, but only one way forward now.

  2. Ian 4 years ago

    Bugger it,
    coal was good,
    but now we’ve had enough of it.
    Green house gas
    Is a bitter pill to swallow
    Coal don’t cry, Oil will soon follow.

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