Climate Summit for Local Government

Sept 6-8, 2023 | Melbourne

There are so many groundbreaking clean energy projects happening around the country that we just had to single out a few and sing their praises!

In the face of federal government inaction on climate change, cities and towns of all shapes and sizes are taking matters into their own hands to plan for the future and prepare for climate change.

They are showing Australia and the world that it is possible to move to clean energy, in many cases attracting jobs, investment and growth to their region.

Here are some inspiring stories from around the country:

Port Augusta, SA – thirteen renewable projects on the go

In mid-2016, Port Augusta, 300km north of Adelaide, was on a downward trajectory with the closure of coal and steel plants. Today, it has attracted nearly $5bn in renewable energy investment (spread over the next five years), and no less than 13 renewable energy projects in various stages of development This  has firmly placed the region at the forefront of green innovation. 

Artists impression of the field of mirrors at the Aurora solar thermal plant, Port Augusta.

Artists impression of the field of mirrors at the Aurora solar thermal plant, Port Augusta.

The projects range from the vast Bungala solar plant, to the Lincoln Gap wind farm, to Sundrop Farms, a tomato greenhouse powered by its own small solar-thermal plant, to the Aurora solar thermal power plant.

How’s this for a technology tidbit: the Aurora solar thermal power plant will use a field of mirrors to heat a molten salt system inside a 234-metre tower. It will generate and store solar energy, meaning the plant can provide power 24/7 reliably generating clean electricity day and night.

Sydney, NSW – top honours in sustainability ranking

The CDP (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project) ranks more than 570 cities globally to identify those excelling at reporting on climate data. Cities Power Partnership member City of Sydney scored top marks alongside Cleveland, Durban, Mexico City and Paris. Sydney has set itself ambitious sustainability targets of achieving net zero emissions by 2050.

Lord Mayor Clover Moore said of the award, “We are working with developers and the community to raise sustainability standards across the entire local government area. We are also investing in green infrastructure and increasing our renewable energy use. This number one ranking means we have been recognised internationally for our exemplary reporting and collection of environmental data.”

Daly River, NT – solar energy transformation

Late in 2017, Daly River became the first Northern Territory (NT) township to become 100% powered by solar during daylight hours. The first stage of this Top End project saw a 1 MW solar and battery installation and Daly River was the test site for Solar Energy Transformation Projects (or SETuP) locations.

The second stage is a $59 million project jointly funded by ARENA and the NT government, which will deliver 5.6 MW of solar panels to 17 towns, from Finke near the South Australian border, to Arnhem Land and the Tiwi Islands. In total, the SETuP project will bring solar energy to 26 off-grid communities in the NT. The program is the largest roll-out of solar to remote communities ever seen in the Top End, and could be the beginning of a trend as solar costs fall.

Yackandandah, VIC – mini grid future

A small town in the picturesque hills of the Victorian high country is serious about self-sufficiency and sustainability. Through a partnership between Mondo Energy and local non-profit Totally Renewable Yackandandah, the town has set itself the lofty goal of powering everything with 100% renewable energy and achieving energy independence, where they are not reliant on the national grid, by 2022. Part of the project is developing one of Australia’s first commercially operated mini-grids. 

Yackandandah solar panels.

Yackandandah solar panels. Source: Mondo Power

A mini grid is an energy system in which a group of households are equipped with an individual energy generation (solar panels) and storage capability (battery). This group can function as a unified energy community through the use of wireless communications, cloud-based software platforms and home energy management systems.

The partners are now set to launch a second solar and battery purchasing offer, following the successful 2017 offering which saw more than 550kW of solar generation added to buildings in the Yackandandah area.

Melbourne, VIC – the power of coming together

Melbourne has a lot going on in the move to clean energy, but one initiative worth noting is the Melbourne Renewable Energy Project (MREP).

MREP marks the first time in Australia that a group of local governments, cultural institutions, universities and corporations have collectively purchased renewable energy from a newly built facility.

MREP members, led by City of Melbourne and including Cities Power Partnership councils Port Phillip and Moreland, have committed to purchasing 88 GWh of electricity per year from the Crowlands Wind Farm in north western Victoria, under a long-term power purchase agreement. Because the wind farm will generate more than the purchasing group’s needs, it will also bring additional renewable energy into the market.

The MREP approach enables cities, corporations and institutions to take an active role in working together to secure renewable electricity supply and taking action on climate change. It provides long-term price certainty, enabling customers to mitigate the risk of increased energy costs in a volatile market. Significantly, it will also be critical to Melbourne achieving its greenhouse gas pollution reduction targets.

Photo of wind farm

Find out more about Australian towns and cities that are transforming our energy future – check out the Cities Power Partnership list of Power Partners.