It takes a lot of power to run city infrastructure. That’s why almost every city around the world relies on a mix of energy production including both renewable (e.g. solar) and non-renewable (e.g. coal) energy.
So it’s incredible to hear that – since July 1st, 2020 – the City of Sydney has been running completely on green energy. Just with wind and solar power, they’re running their:
- Event spaces (sports fields and pools)
- Infrastructure (street lights and depots)
- Buildings (offices and Sydney City Town Hall).
They’re not the first Aussie city, though. They announced the green switch on the same day as the City of Adelaide – and the City of Melbourne did it over a year ago.
So how has the biggest city in Australia transitioned to renewable energy – while Brisbane solar power and wind power projects haven’t been able to get our city into the ‘100% renewables club’? Well there are two parts to Sydney’s strategy: inner- and outer-city projects.
Inner-City Solar Power
The beauty of solar panels is that you can set them up pretty much everywhere, which is exactly what Sydney has done. They’ve installed solar arrays on dozens of buildings, including:
- Sydney Markets (over 8,600 panels)
- Alexandria Canal Depot (1,600 panels)
- Australia Post building (over 1,000 panels).
The list just goes on with thousands of panels installed all across the city – and with more scheduled for installation.
Outer-City Green Energy
Sydney and Brisbane solar power has two great journeys. The 150 million kilometre journey from the sun and then the (much shorter) few hundred kilometre journey from inland power stations. In fact, the City of Sydney is sourcing most of its green energy from outside the city, including:
- Bomen Solar Farm in Wagga Wagga (120 MW)
- Shoalhaven Solar Farm in Shoalhaven (3 MW)
- Sapphire Wind Farm in Inverell (270 MW).
Overall, 25% will come from PV solar production and 75% of city power will come from wind farms. This has all come from a $60 million deal with Flow Power (the electricity retailer) – and it’s the largest council deal of its type in Oz. So why such a large investment?
What This Means for Sydney
The Lord Mayor of Sydney, Clover Moore, has stated this shift is in response to the ‘climate emergency’ we’re in. And the benefits for the city are immense. From saving money to helping the environment, the shift will:
- Reduce expenses – saving up to $5 million over the next 10 years
- Reduce carbon emissions – around 20,000 tonnes every year.
And they’re still making changes. They’ve estimated they’ll have reduced carbon emissions in the city by 70% in 2024. But Brisbane solar power and wind power projects still have a way to go to get our city running on renewables.
One thing we can be proud of is Brisbane solar power from rooftops. Above all the other Aussie states, Queensland is leading the rooftop-solar race – with over 35% of suitable dwellings generating solar power.