Climate Summit for Local Government

Sept 6-8, 2023 | Melbourne
Northern Beaches’ 4-year action plan is tackling climate change and increasing renewables across the region. 

This case study takes a look at Northern Beaches’ thorough plan to reduce emissions, benefiting Council, businesses and the wider community.

Manly Andrew Boy Charlton Aquatic Centre Solar

How Northern Beaches Council is reducing emissions

In 2020, Northern Beaches Council prepared a Climate Change Action Plan (CCAP), setting a 4-year plan for Council to work towards meeting their corporate and community renewable and emission reduction targets.

The CCAP was developed in consultation with Council’s community reference group for the environment and other key internal and external stakeholders. Expert technical studies helped identify priority actions for delivery which included transitioning to renewable energy whilst reducing emissions and costs.

CCAP renewable energy actions implemented include:

  • Council’s 100% renewable electricity Power Purchase Agreement (PPA)
  • an additional 490kW of on-site solar
  • establishing the first community battery trial on Australia’s East Coast
  • Sydney’s first free GreenPowered fast electric vehicle charging station
  • implementing Council’s Simplifying Solar Program

The installation of Council’s additional 490kW of on-site solar and first solar powered battery, similarly involved consultation with industry experts and peers in design and procurement. These systems have increased onsite renewable energy use to over 900kW in total and are delivering significant cost savings for Council.

Council partnered with Ausgrid to install a community battery in Beacon Hill in February 2021, as part of a trial allowing connected solar customers to use more of the renewable energy they generate and save on electricity bills, without purchasing their own battery.

Sydney’s first, free, 100% GreenPower community DC fast electric vehicle charging station (EVCS) was installed in Mona Vale in 2021 through a partnership with JOLT, and again Ausgrid. This Sydney-wide initiative aims to accelerate the transition to electric vehicles and provide increased access to renewable energy choices. For this project, Council undertook extensive community engagement including with Council’s Local Traffic Committee to deliver this innovative solution to the community.

In 2020 Council also launched the Simplifying Solar Program to address key barriers to community solar uptake and further support increased renewables. Delivery involved development of easy to understand solar guides, targeted media campaigns, on-call technical advice and the well-attended ‘Solar Expo’.

Corporate and community targets

Delivery of the Northern Beaches CCAP has helped Council meet and work towards corporate and community renewable energy and emission reduction targets.

Together, the solar installations and 100% renewable electricity PPA have achieved an 80% reduction in Council corporate emissions and have seen Council meet the two following targets in January 2021, far earlier than expected:

  1. All suitable sites to be powered by renewable electricity by 2030.
  2. Reduce corporate carbon emissions by 60% by 2040.

Additionally, the community battery trial and Simplifying Solar Program (SSP) support uptake of renewables and help progress towards the community target of 50% of suitable sites with solar by 2030. The battery trial, SSP and Mona Vale EVCS aim to accelerate the transition to net zero and also help meet the community target of net zero emissions by 2050.

Community benefits of reducing emissions

Emissions saved
The corporate renewable energy initiatives are expected to result in significant emissions reduction over time. The 100% renewable electricity PPA is expected to save approximately 140,000 tonnes of emissions over 7 years – that’s equivalent to taking 30,447 passenger vehicles off the roads for one year. Additionally, 12,000 tonnes over 25 years will be avoided from Council’s 490kW of on-site solar and solar-power battery installed since 2020.

The two-year community battery trial and fast 100% GreenPower EVCS are in early stages and any resultant emission reductions will be closely monitored. Council is also monitoring any additional solar uptake from the delivery of its Simplifying Solar Program.

Economic benefits
These renewable energy actions will deliver considerable financial benefits for Council and the community. Council’s onsite solar and 100% renewable electricity PPA are expected to deliver greater than $2.4M in savings over 7 years, with savings able to be reallocated to fund other important community projects.

The battery trial allows connected solar customers increased access to renewable energy, saving up to $200 p.a. on electricity bills and reduces requirements for costly electricity network upgrades, leading to lower bills for all consumers.

The fast EVCS provides drivers access to 7kWh of zero emission fuel per day, potentially saving >$1,000 p.a. and supports the transition to cleaner transport.

Council’s Simplifying Solar Program provides free community advice and information to support the decision to go solar.

Energy generation
These initiatives are designed to support renewable energy generation. Key points are outlined below.

  • Council’s 100% renewable electricity PPA supports the flow of more renewable energy into the grid. The PPA equates to ~19 GWh of electricity usage annually, totaling ~133 GWh over 7 years. It also supports regional renewable energy generation with LGCs purchased from the Bodangora Wind Farm in regional NSW.
  • Council’s 490kW of on-site solar will generate 650 MWh p.a. of renewable energy (at year 1) and 14 GWh over the 25-year life of the systems.
  • The delivery of the community battery trial and Simplifying Solar Program are also expected to support further renewable energy generation through increased solar uptake. In 20/21 an additional 2,325 solar systems were installed across the Northern Beaches.

Council’s Climate Change Action Plan is an ambitious initiative that other local government areas can emulate to reduce emissions for their own communities.

Northern Beaches Council was a winner in the Renewable Energy Achievement category in the Cities Power Partnership Climate Awards 2021.

For more information about this project or other case studies on our website, please contact us at [email protected].

CPP Awards 2021 Logo Winner