Australia’s Climate Council has hailed the City of Newcastle for becoming the first local government in NSW to make the switch to 100 per cent renewable electricity.
Newcastle, Australia’s seventh largest city, awarded a 10-year power purchase agreement (PPA) to energy retailer Flow Power this week to meet all its operational needs from the Sapphire Wind Farm in the state’s New England region.
The Climate Council’s Cities Power Partnership Director David Craven said Newcastle had emerged as a leader in Australia’s renewable energy transformation.
“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 per cent 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.”
Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said the PPA would save local rate payers around $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,” Councillor Nelmes 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.”
Flow Power CEO Matthew van der Linden said organisations like City of Newcastle were “leading the transition to a new energy future”.
“We’re thrilled to see the uptake of renewable deals like these grow in the Hunter Region,” Mr van der Linden said.
“We see this as a long-term partnership, which will not only support City of Newcastle but also have significant broader impacts for the local region.”
The Sapphire Wind Farm, developed by CWP Renewables 18km west of Glen Innes, generates enough energy to power around 115,000 homes annually. The facility is part of a 1,300-megawatt wind, solar and battery portfolio the Newcastle-based firm is building across Australia.
CWP Renewables CEO Jason Willoughby said the team responsible for developing, financing and project managing Sapphire had been based in Newcastle since 2008.
“All the wind turbines for the wind farm were shipped through the Port of Newcastle and delivered to the site outside Glen Innes,” he said. “So it’s great to see that the green electricity now produced by the project is powering the City of Newcastle.”
Sapphire also supplies Newcastle-based industrial products manufacturer Molycop, which became one of Australia’s biggest buyers of renewable energy when it signed a PPA with Flow Power earlier this year.
Newcastle’s switch was followed Wednesday by an announcement Crown Plaza in the Hunter Valley Vineyards would build its own five-megawatt solar farm to power a hotel, convention centre and brewery.
Despite being better known for its rich coal reserves, the Hunter is now a hotbed of renewable energy development, with a range of projects either in planning or underway. These include a $117 million, 62-megawatt solar farm approved at Lake Macquarie’s Vales Point Power Station late last year.
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