Newcastle Joins Renewables Push

Filed under Council, Energy, News ~ by Press on  30 Aug 2019

Newcastle joins a growing number of cities and states to source energy from renewables, ignoring federal government paralysis.

A plan to source 100 per cent of City of Newcastle’s power from renewable generation could save ratepayers millions in energy costs over the next 25 years, a feasibility study found.

Concept image of Summerhill solar farm  under construction.

The study commissioned by Newcastle Council projects cost savings of between $3.8 million and $4.8 million to ratepayers by sourcing power either directly, or via a retailer, from renewable sources.

With the City’s current electricity contracts due to expire on 31 December 2019, Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said it was the right time for the City to implement more sustainable, cost-efficient and eco-friendly forms of electricity generation from 2020 and beyond. 

It’s City of Newcastle’s aim to be a leader in renewable energy as part of our strategy to be a global smart city,” the Lord Mayor said.

We’ve engaged community groups, businesses, industry representatives and trade unions regarding the impact of shifting 100 percent of the City’s operational electricity to renewable energy sources.

Around 70 per cent of the respondents to our Winter Community Survey supported the City moving towards a 100 per cent renewable energy target.

The survey also identified increasing the use of renewable energy as one of the community’s highest ranked measures to reduce impacts on the environment.

Our City is well positioned to take the next step towards achieving a 100 per cent renewable electricity target and we are already using half a megawatt of solar to power ten of our sites, including the Newcastle Museum.

There’s an additional five megawatt of renewable energy generation that will soon be available via the Summerhill Waste Management Centre solar farm.

Combined, this will provide for between 50-65 per cent of the City’s renewable electricity supply, which puts us on track to meet the 100 per cent goal we’re aiming towards.

While it will be sometime before the national electricity grid fully transitions to 100 per cent renewable energy, the City will be looking to purchase enough renewable electricity to meet 100 per cent of its operational electricity requirements.”

As part of Council’s operational activities, contracts for the supply of electricity for large sites, street lighting and small sites expire on 31 December 2019 and the recommendation proposed is that the City enter into a long-term agreement that provides for 100 per cent renewable electricity supply.

If adopted, Newcastle would follow the lead of other Australian organisations that have moved to 100 per cent renewable electricity supply including the University of Newcastle, University of NSW, CBA, Westpac, Monash University, Melbourne University, and also City of Sydney which is currently out to market.

Summerhill

Construction began in November 2018 on the region’s biggest solar farm on an eight hectare capped landfill cell at Summerhill Waste Management Centre.

The project is valued at $8.2 million and will involve the installation of 14,500 photovoltaic solar arrays in an area of approximately five football fields.

The farm will produce sufficient energy to run the City of Newcastle’s facilities during the day and save ratepayers around $9 million over its 25-year lifespan. It will also help Council achieve its 2020 target for 30% renewable energy generation.

Construction is expected to be completed by late 2019.



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