Sydney says goodbye to coal electricity powering city-owned buildings with $60 million green energy deal

Sydney says goodbye to coal electricity powering city-owned buildings with $60 million green energy deal
Sydney says goodbye to coal electricity powering city-owned buildings with $60 million green energy deal

The City of Sydney has brokered a $60 million green energy deal with Flow Power – which is said to be the biggest standalone renewables deal made by any Australian council.

The new initiative will aim to meet the city’s electricity needs using only wind and solar to power all city-owned properties by mid-2020. These properties include pools, libraries, playing fields, depots, council buildings, and even the Sydney Town Hall.

“It’s exciting to see the City of Sydney take on renewables as the cornerstone of a holistic energy strategy. This deal will empower the City to tap into the wholesale energy market and support the system. This is the forward-thinking approach to energy that will drive us toward the new energy future... We need organisations to lead by example when it comes to their energy strategy. If just 20 per cent of the market followed the City’s lead, it would drive investment in 11 gigawatt of new renewable generation – that’s double the current pipeline of renewable projects.”

Matthew van der Linden, Flow Power CEO

By converting to renewable energy – specifically three-quarters of energy has been dedicated to wind power and one-quarter solar – the city will save up to half a million dollars over the next 10 years.

Power will now be sourced from the following renewable farms:

Sapphire Wind Farm

Farm output: 270 megawatts

Where: Near Glenn Innes, northern NSW

Sydney says goodbye to coal electricity powering city-owned buildings with million green energy deal
Sapphire Wind Farm. Credit: City of Sydney/Sapphire Wind Farm

Bomen Solar Farm

Farm output: 120 megawatts

Where: Near Wagga Wagga, south west NSW

Sydney says goodbye to coal electricity powering city-owned buildings with million green energy deal
Bomen Solar Farm. Credit: City of Sydney/Bomen Solar Farm

The deal will aim to support the state’s drought-stricken areas, create more work opportunities for the community and further reduce harmful emissions – an important step towards Sydney’s transition to a low carbon future.

“The science is clear, without urgent, co-ordinated and global action to reduce emissions in the next decade, we face a very high risk of triggering runaway climate change. “This new commitment will see the City’s operations cut emissions by around 20,000 tonnes a year – equivalent to the power consumption of 8,000 local households."

Lord Mayor Clover Moore

Sydney Lord Mayor, Clover Moore also explained that this initiative provides a great opportunity to strive towards the Paris climate change agreement

“Successive Australian Governments have shamefully presided over a climate disaster, and now we are at a critical juncture. We can act here in Sydney, but we desperately need the Australian Government to reintroduce a price on carbon to meet our Paris emissions reduction targets, and to establish a Just Transition Authority to ensure Australians employed in fossil fuel industries find appropriate alternate employment.”

The budget will also allow $5 million to see the creation of a community solar farm project come to life, which will be developed by Repower Shoalhaven. The project will aim to provide local employment, and the ability to generate enough energy to power around 1,000 NSW homes. Anticipated completion of the project has been slated for 2020.

“We are proud to be a part of this significant commitment from the City to advance a sustainable decarbonized future. This will enable a regional community to participate through the purchase of power from our not for profit scheme and support local jobs. Thank you, City of Sydney.”

Robert Hayward, Repower Shoalhaven spokesperson

NSW government is also planning to have 7,800 solar panels installed on buildings across the city by mid-2021.

A SUSTAINABLE PAST

Ever since 2006, Sydney has been leading the way in terms of sustainability, starting with a 26% electricity usage decrease, and preceding to become certified carbon neutral by 2011. Over the years the NSW government has facilitated a stream of energy efficiency investments and initiatives to come to fruition. 

These investments include:

  • Replacing 6,500 streetlights with LED bulbs, saving $800,000 and reducing 2,400 tonnes of carbon emission annually
  • 1,600 solar panels have been installed at Alexandra Canal Depot and have the state’s first utility-installed Tesla batteries. Each battery can store <500 kilowatt-hours of electricity, which is equivalent to the daily needs of 50 city homes or 50,000 mobile phone batteries
  • The City of Sydney has partnered with Ausgrid to upgrade the 9,500 Ausgrid-owned street lights to LED, saving 3,500 tonnes of carbon and $1 million in annual maintenance and energy costs
  • Solar panels have been installed on over 30 office buildings, pools, libraries and community centres
  • 40 buildings have been upgraded within the City’s building portfolio to be more energy-efficient, saving 6500 tonnes of carbon emissions and $2.3 million per year
  • Energy-efficient technology installed at several swimming pools, saving nearly 1,000 tonnes of emissions per year

FREE SOLAR PANELS FOR NSW HOMEOWNERS

Another secondary green initiative will also see a series of solar panels distributed to 3,000 low socioeconomic households across the state. NSW government has recently launched an online eligibility checker for interested homeowners to find out if they qualify for the trial.

The criteria list requires entrants to be currently receiving the Low Income Household Rebate, a valid Pensioner Concession Card or Department of Veteran’s Affairs Gold Card, no pre-existing solar PV system, own your own home (which is not in a retirement village or strata building) and agree not to get the Low Income Household Rebate for ten years.

Applicants must also live in:

  • Central Coast
  • North Coast
  • Sydney – South
  • Illawarra – Shoalhaven
  • South Coast

Lead image: Matthew van der Linden, Lord Mayor Clover Moore and Robert Haywood. 

Olivia Round

Olivia Round

Olivia Round is the Features Editor of urban.com.au. Olivia specialises in news reporting, in-depth editorial content and video + podcast interviews with industry experts.

Tags: 
Sustainability Sydney

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