City of Sydney inks $60 million deal to go 100 per cent renewables

The City of Sydney has struck a landmark deal worth $60 million to power all of the council’s operations with 100 per cent renewable electricity.

Under an agreement with electricity retailer Flow Power, the City of Sydney will purchase electricity from the 270MW Sapphire Wind Farm in northern NSW, and the 120MW Bomen Solar Farm near wagga Wagga in the south-west of NSW.

The City of Sydney will also purchase power from a community owned solar farm near Nowra on the NSW coast.

The contracts will be enough to deliver the equivalent of the annual power needs of all City of Sydney owned properties with 100 per cent renewable electricity, delivering on its pledge that was announced in August. The deal comes into effect from 1 July 2020.

“Today’s announcement is the biggest standalone renewables commitment for an Australian council,” Lord Mayor Clover Moore said.

“By 2020 all our pools, libraries, playing fields, depots and council buildings, including the historic Sydney Town Hall, will be powered using only wind and solar.”

The Sydney council announced in 2011 that it would become certified as carbon neutral, with an additional commitment to reduce its emissions by 70 per cent by 2030 to reduce the need to purchase carbon offsets to cancel out its emissions.

With council sourcing all of its electricity from renewables, the council predicts it will achieve its 70 per cent emissions reduction target six years early.

“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,” Moore said.

“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.”

The council will purchase power from a $5 million Repower Shoalhaven community energy project in Nowra, expected to be completed in 2020.

“We are proud to be a part of this significant commitment from the City to advance a sustainable decarbonized future,” Repower Shoalhaven spokesperson Robert Hayward said.

“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.”

The City of Sydney has undertaken a range of measures to reduce the council’s energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions footprint.

The council has shifted thousand’s of Sydney’s streetlights to energy efficiency LEDs, and installed rooftop solar systems on several council properties, including the iconic Sydney Town Hall.

In June, the City of Sydney joined hundreds of other local government authorities in making a formal declaration of a climate change emergency.

“Over 25% of Australians live in local government areas which have now declared a climate emergency. We need to run our homes and businesses on 100% renewable energy,” City of Sydney sustainability engagement manager Melinda Dewsnap said.

Moore used the announcement to call on the federal government to follow the lead of local government and to implement meaningful policies to reduce Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions.

“Successive Australian Governments have shamefully presided over a climate disaster, and now we are at a critical juncture,” Moore said.

“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.”

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