Sydney is now being powered using 100% renewable electricity generated from wind and solar farms in regional New South Wales (NSW) as from 1 July. In the biggest green energy deal of its kind by a council in Australia, valued at over $60 million, all city operations including street lights, pools, sports fields, depots, buildings and the Sydney Town Hall are being run on renewable electricity from locally-sourced clean energy.
Lord Mayor Clover Moore says the switch to renewable electricity is projected to save the city up to half a million dollars a year over the next 10 years and reduce C02 emissions by around 20 000 tonnes a year, the equivalent to the power consumption of more than 6 000 households. She says the new agreement will generate jobs, support communities impacted by Covid-19 and create new opportunities in drought-affected regional NSW. “We are in the middle of a climate emergency and if we are to reduce emissions and grow the green power sector, all levels of government must urgently transition to renewable energy. Cities are responsible for 70% of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide so it is critical we take effective and evidence-based climate actions,” says the mayor. This deal will see the city reach their 2030 target of reducing emissions by 70% by 2024, six years early and will save ratepayers money as well as support regional jobs at wind and solar farms in Glen Innes, Wagga Wagga and Shoalhaven. This is a landmark achievement for Sydney and if organisations can follow in the city’s footsteps, a net-zero carbon future is achievable.
Matthew van der Linden, CEO of Flow Power, green power supplier part of the deal, says the city is directly matched to renewable projects, a move that supports integration of renewables into the system and around three-quarters of the power is wind-generated with the remaining quarter by solar. He says the project has Sydney sourcing renewable energy from three different generators of the Bomen Solar Farm in Wagga Wagga, Sapphire Wind Farm near Inverell and the Shoalhaven Solar Farm in Nowra
The Shoalhaven project has been developed by Flow Power in partnership with Repower Shoalhaven, a not for profit volunteer community enterprise that develops community solar projects. The 3-megawatt Shoalhaven Solar Farm has around 10 000 panels generating enough energy to power 1 500 homes and the Shoalhaven Solar Farm could not have become operational without the city’s investment.
Bob Hayward, member of Repower Shoalhaven, says with Sydney partnering with this project, they are creating local jobs and helping the renewables sector grow. He says the decision to include a regional community-based scheme brings them closer to a sustainable decarbonised future while supporting regional investment and employment.
Rick Francis, chief executive of Spark Infrastructure, says the 120MW Bomen Solar Farm, owned by Spark Infrastructure, has more than 310 000 solar panels on 250 hectares of land and is one of the first projects in Australia to use bi-facial panels that absorb sunlight on both sides with tracking technology shifting each panel throughout the day to capture the sun’s energy. He says the project delivers clean energy for Australia’s largest city and represents a significant investment in the Wagga Wagga community and Riverina region, anchoring the region’s role as a future renewable energy hub for NSW.
The Sapphire Wind Farm near Inverell, partly owned by Jason Willoughby, CEO of CWP Renewables, is the largest wind farm in NSW, with a 270MW capacity generated by 75 turbines that stand 200 metres high. “It produces enough clean energy to power 115 000 homes and displaces 700 000 tonnes of carbon dioxide while bringing economic benefits to the NSW New England region and the Australian Capital Territory. We hope this inspires other councils and organisations to follow Sydney’s lead,” says the CEO.
VIDEO: Sapphire Wind Farm helps power Sydney