The City of Sydney announced last week that it will purchase 100% of its electricity from renewable energy sources starting next year in a move the city hopes will help them cut around 18,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions.
The new commitment, which was approved by the City Council last week, stems from the fact the city’s current energy supply contract is set to expire at the end of this year.
This opening has allowed the City of Sydney to effectively increase its existing renewable energy target of 50% by 2030 to 100% by 2020.
“We’re increasing our renewable electricity target and achieving it earlier because our residents and businesses are demanding it, it reduces emissions and it will soon be cheaper than coal,” said Chris Derksema, the City of Sydney’s sustainability director.
“The shift to renewable electricity is happening much faster than anyone imagined. We’re leading by example, with the hope of inspiring local residents and businesses to take action themselves.
“Visitors to our swimming pools, libraries, childcare centres and even Sydney Town Hall will know we’re playing our part.”
Sydney has prided itself on being one of the world’s leading voices in the transition to a low-carbon economy. The city had already set in place a 50% renewable energy target and a 70% greenhouse gas reduction target by 2030 – moving to a net-zero target by 2050 – and is also a member of the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group – a network of 94 of the world’s largest cities representing more than 700 million people worldwide.
The city’s targets have already helped reduce emissions by 25% based on a 2006 baseline and the city is also on track to achieve a further 10,000 tonnes of direct reductions through energy efficiency initiatives over the next five years. Sydney has also reduced its electricity usage by 26% since 2006.
“Acting on climate change is the City’s top priority,” said the City’s Lord Mayor, Clover Moore. “We were among the first to set science-based targets in 2008 and since then we’ve reduced our emissions by 20% on 2005 levels.
“This decision by Council will allow us to achieve our commitment to reduce emissions by 70%, ten years ahead of our own 2030 deadline, well on the way to net-zero by 2050,” she added. “The City’s strong economic position and the money we’ve saved by investing in energy efficiency allows us to act responsibly by committing to 100 per cent renewable energy.”
Some of Sydney’s energy efficiency initiatives include replacing 6,500 street lights with LEDs – a move which is saving the city $800,000 a year in energy costs and has reduced carbon emissions by 2,400 tonnes a year – and a push to upgrade 9,500 utility-owned street lights to LED – a switch which is expected to save 3,500 tonnes of carbon a year.
Sydney has also installed solar panels on more than 30 of its office buildings, pools, libraries, and community centres, and plans to have more than 7,800 solar panels generating power for its buildings by mid-2021.
Sydney’s Alexandra Canal Depot in Alexandria is also already powered by 1,600 solar panels and is home to New South Wales’ first utility-installed Tesla battery which can store up to 500 kWh of electricity.
“For too long, our state and federal governments have failed to take action to address accelerating climate change. That’s why cities must lead the way,” added Clover Moore. “We’ve reduced our own emissions and continue to work with our business community through the Better Buildings Partnership.
This successful program has assisted members to save $33 million a year on power costs and reduce their emissions by 52 per cent since 2001, well over halfway to their 2030 target of a 70 per cent reduction.”