WOLLONGONG City Council is taking the next step towards meeting its target of net zero emissions by 2030.
On Monday night, Council decided to participate in a joint tender for a large-scale, renewable generation power purchase agreement (PPA).
The agreement aims to reduce Council’s overall greenhouse gas emissions by 15,000 tonnes of CO2-e per annum. This energy will be used for Council services and operations such as streetlights, and its largest energy consumption sites, such as leisure centres, pools, community centres and libraries.
Improving environmental sustainability is a key goal in Council’s strategic plan Wollongong 2028, and was an outcome outlined in its Climate Change Mitigation Plan 2020.
Wollongong Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery said that signing on to the agreement is an opportunity for Council to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.
“A renewable energy PPA is where a buyer, such as Council, purchases renewable energy from either a retailer or energy generator for a specified price rate and timeframe, usually eight to 12 years,” Cr Bradbery said.
“These types of arrangement usually last for longer periods of time as this provides the electricity supplier with a level of certainty so that they can fund the construction of renewable energy infrastructure to meet the energy needs of the buyer.”
PPAs can work in different ways depending on the type of agreement and this means that energy can be purchased from a combination of different types of renewable sources such as solar farms, wind farms and hydroelectricity.
Council will join with other participating NSW councils in putting out a tender through Procurement Australia for this large-scale renewable generation power purchase agreement.
The arrangement will help Council work towards achieving adopted targets of net zero emissions by 2050 for the City of Wollongong and net zero emissions by 2030 for Council operations.
“This approach has many benefits beyond just the obvious ones for our environment. Renewable PPAs can often be a more cost-effective energy option. It’s a real win for Council as it means that we will be reducing our environmental footprint while also using our community’s money wisely,” Cr Bradbery said.
Council is also nearing the completion of installing solar panels on the roof of its Stewart Street multi-storey carpark in the city.
The panels will be supported on new steel frames which also serve as vehicle shade structures. Construction work is anticipated to finish by mid-July 2021.
“Council is setting the pace when it comes to sustainable buildings and this project is another way we’re working to improve the sustainability of Council assets,” Cr Bradbery said.
“The Council Administration Building already has a 6 Green Star rating, which is the highest rating a building can achieve from the Green Building Council of Australia.
“The new solar panels will provide renewable energy to be used to reduce the maximum energy demand of the administration building.”
Meanwhile, Greens councillor Mithra said after declaring a climate emergency in 2019 the two most significant actions by Council to achieving zero emissions by 2030 have been rolling out fogo, and getting methane producing food scraps out of landfill, and now switching to renewable electricity.
“It is so satisfying to be able to implement local solutions to global problems like climate change,” Cr Cox said.
“Not only will this decision slash our emissions, it will also save us money, as the proposed green power is cheaper than our current contract for coal fired electricity.
“Our community has asked us to act on the climate emergency, and we have show how much can be done at a local level, even in the absence of federal government leadership,” Cr Cox said.
See the Climate Change page of Council’s website to learn more about a more sustainable Wollongong.
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