Australia’s two largest cities and Adelaide City Council are stepping out in front with major renewable energy commitments starting this month.
The City of Sydney announced that starting 1 July, all of the city’s operations — including streetlights, sportsfields, buildings and city hall — will be powered entirely by renewable energy.
The city’s $60 million deal with Flow Power is the biggest of its kind for any Australian council, bringing in renewable energy from solar and wind farms in regional NSW.
The switch is estimated to cut 20,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year and save a half a million dollars within ten years.
“Cities are responsible for 70 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide, so it is critical that we take effective and evidence-based climate actions,” Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore said.
Earlier the same week, major players in Melbourne’s private sector announced their transition to wind powered energy through the second Melbourne Renewable Energy Project (MREP).
The deal will slash a whopping 123,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per year, bringing the city’s total emission reductions to an estimated 5 per cent between MREP projects.
The buyers include RMIT University, Deakin University, Cbus Property, ISPT, Fulton Hogan, Citywide Asphalt, and Mondelez International.
Between the seven buyers are 14 shopping centres, nine office buildings, seven educational campuses and four manufacturing facilities.
Deakin University is one of the most ambitious of the lot with its goal to reach carbon neutral by 2025, a full 25 years ahead of the 2050 targets.
“Universities are in the privileged position of equipping the next generation of leaders, innovators and thinkers to understand the global climate challenges facing the world, and it’s important we lead with solutions that deliver community, economic and environmental benefits,” Deakin’s chief operating officer Kean Selway said.
Locally sourced is good for the planet and the pocket
Both Sydney and Melbourne are using this as an opportunity to invest not only in sustainability but also the growing renewable energy industry in local regions.
In Sydney, energy will come from Bomen Solar Farm in Wagga Wagga, Sapphire Wind Farm near Inverell and the Shoalhaven solar farm in Nowra while the majority of Melbourne’s power will come from Yaloak South Wind Farm in Ballan.
Repower Shoalhaven, Flow Power’s not for profit partner on the Shoalhaven farm, congratulated the City of Sydney for its commitment to a decarbonised future and regional investment.
“Shoalhaven solar farm could not have become operational without the City’s investment. By partnering with this project, we’re creating local jobs and helping the renewables sector grow,” member Bob Hayward said on behalf of the organisation.
With renewable energy cheaper and more available than ever, Melbourne Deputy Lord Mayor Arron Wood hopes to make power purchase agreements a major part of the city’s economic recovery strategy after the COVID 19 pandemic.
“The purchase of renewable energy certainly has a positive environmental impact, but it also makes economic sense. We know the energy market can fluctuate a lot. Like MREP1, the MREP2 project allows the buying group to lock in price certainty.
“It’s not only good for our planet but great for the hip pocket.”
Also starting on 1 July, the City of Adelaide switched to 100 per cent renewable electricity in a power purchase agreement, also Flow Power.
“This city leading project is a long-term commitment that will support South Australia’s energy transition and foster the growth of renewable electricity generation and jobs growth in our state.
Lord Mayor of Adelaide, Sandy Verschoor, said the move was part of the City’s strategic plan to be an environmental leader
“This means that all our corporate and community buildings, council event infrastructure, electric vehicle chargers, barbecues in the Park Lands, water pumps, street lighting and traffic lights – everything that council operates – will be powered by renewable electricity,” the mayor said.
“The electricity to be provided by renewable generation each year is equivalent to powering over 3800 homes. The switch will reduce emissions by over 11,000 tonnes or the equivalent of taking 3,500 cars off the road. Electricity cost savings are anticipated to be in the order of 20 per cent compared to the City of Adelaide’s most recent contract.
Electricity will be delivered from Clements Gap wind farm in mid-north South Australia to start with and later by two solar farms under construction in Coonalpyn and Streaky Bay.