Friday, 25 October 2019 09:54

Newcastle becomes first NSW council to adopt 100% renewable power

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The City of Newcastle's solar farm at the Summerhill Waste Management Centre. The City of Newcastle's solar farm at the Summerhill Waste Management Centre. Supplied

The City of Newcastle has become the first local government in NSW to switch to 100% renewable electricity.

A statement said Australia's seventh largest city had signed a 10-year power purchase agreement with retailer Flow Power to meet its needs from the Sapphire Wind Farm in the New England region.

David Craven, director of the Climate Council's Power Partnership, hailed the move by Newcastle.

"I'd like to congratulate Newcastle for leading the charge on renewables, becoming the first local government in the state to make the switch to 100% renewable energy," he said.

"Newcastle's willingness to invest in big, effective projects and innovative solutions, such as its newly signed power-purchase agreement, have seen it streak ahead in Australia's local government renewables race."

The Sapphire Wind Farm, developed by CWP Renewables 18km west of Glen Innes, produces sufficient energy for about 115,000 homes annually and is part of a 1300-megawatt wind, solar and battery portfolio the firm is building across Australia.

It also supplies Newcastle-based industrial products manufacturer Molycop, which became one of Australia’s biggest buyers of renewable energy when it signed a deal with Flow Power earlier this year.

The switch was followed by an announcement that Crown Plaza in the Hunter Valley Vineyards would build its own five-megawatt solar farm to power a hotel, convention centre and brewery.

Newcastle mayor Nuatali Nelmes said the deal would save local ratepayers about $1.8 million over 10 years.

“From 1 January, the City will purchase enough renewable electricity to meet 100 per cent of our operational electricity requirements,” she said.

“Drawing all our energy needs from renewables is a significant achievement for the City and our mission to make our operations more sustainable and cost effective.

“Our power purchase agreement means enough clean energy will be put into the grid to power every sportsground floodlight, local library, park-BBQ and any other facility Council operates.

“We already use half a megawatt of solar energy generated on the roofs of 10 of our facilities, and we’ll soon be generating five megawatts from a solar farm measuring around five football fields at our landfill tip site west of the city. My hope is that power from it will one day power our waste trucks and an organic recycling facility we will soon be building.

“Any excess electricity that we sell back into the grid during the day will fetch a better price than the power we will be purchasing late at night for street lighting, so that’s why the Sapphire Wind Farm is a good fit for us.”

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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