The City of Sydney — the central business district of Sydney and its surrounding inner city suburbs — will now be powered using 100% renewable energy, a switch forecast to save half a million dollars and 200,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions from entering the atmosphere over the next 10 years.
Two solar farms and one wind farm located across regional New South Wales will exclusively power all City-owned properties, including 115 buildings, 75 parks, 23,000 streetlights, various sport facilities and depots. The historic deal marks the most substantial green energy agreement by any council across Australia.
Lord Mayor Clover Moore announced the new deal with electricity retailer Flow Power would help progress Australia’s emissions reduction targets and give rise to jobs in Wagga Wagga and Nowra, where the solar farms are located, and Inverell, near the Sapphire Wind Farm.
"We are in the middle of a climate emergency. If we are to reduce emissions and grow the green power sector, all levels of government must urgently transition to renewable energy,” Moore said in a press release. “Cities are responsible for 70% of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide, so it is critical that we take effective and evidence-based climate actions.”
Seventy per cent of the world’s emissions are generated from cities, so the action city governments take is absolutely critical. https://t.co/fatMzgPATd— Clover Moore (@CloverMoore) July 7, 2020
Jason Willoughby, the CEO of CWP Renewables which partly owns the Sapphire Wind Farm, said he hopes other cities across the country and large Australian businesses take inspiration from the City of Sydney’s move to renewable energy.
"Wind is a natural energy choice providing a much-needed alternative to fossil fuels,” Willoughby said in a press release. “We hope this inspires other councils and organisations to follow the City of Sydney’s lead.”
The City of Sydney has long taken action against climate change.
The city became carbon neutral in 2007 and was officially classified as the first local government in Australia to be certified carbon neutral four years later.
In 2019, the City of Sydney was among 43 cities to be recognised for its dedication toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions and planning for extreme climate events, like sea-level rise, fire and drought. The recognition was issued by environmental non-profit CDP, which applauded the city's recent tree-planting initiatives and robust climate policies.
The new clean energy deal is expected to see the city reach its goal of reducing emissions by 70% by 2030 six years early.
Editor's note: This piece has been updated to further clarify that "City of Sydney" refers to a local government area that includes Sydney's central business district and surrounding inner city suburbs, not the greater metropolitan area as a whole.