NSW coal city, Newcastle, sets sights on 100 per cent renewables | RenewEconomy

NSW coal city, Newcastle, sets sights on 100 per cent renewables

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NSW city best known for its busy coal port wants to take council operations 100% renewable by 2020, with a combination of installed solar and a renewable off-take deal.

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One Step Off The Grid 

The New South Wales coal city of Newcastle is zeroing in on plans to take local government operations 100 per cent renewable, after a study showed the move would deliver millions of dollars in savings.

The City said on Tuesday that a feasibility study it commissioned earlier in the year had estimated cost savings of between $3.8 million and $4.8 million to ratepayers by sourcing all of its power either directly, or via a retailer, from renewable sources.

The feasibility report had also found that market volatility and structural changes meant traditional electricity contracts of between one and three years were “no longer a low-risk approach.”

And Councillors are said to have approved a staff recommendation to “move to 100% renewable electricity supply for operations from 2020, subject to confirmation of cost effectiveness.”

Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said now was the right time for the City – best known for hosting one of the world’s largest coal ports – to shift away from fossil fuels, with Council’s current electricity contracts due to expire at the end of the year.

“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,” Nelmes said.

“Our City is well positioned to take the next step towards achieving a 100 per cent renewable electricity target.

“Around 70 per cent of the respondents to our Winter Community Survey supported the City moving towards a 100 per cent renewable energy target, which sends us a strong message.”

Nelmes noted that the City had already installed around 500kW of rooftop solar and was using this to power 10 local government sites, including the Newcastle Museum.

An additional 5MW will soon be made available via a solar farm being built at the Summerhill Waste Management Centre – formerly the site of a coal mine – on which construction began in November of last year.

As we reported here, the Summerhill Solar Farm will join a 2.2MW landfill gas generator and a small wind turbine already installed at the waste facility.

“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,” Nuatali said.

The plan is not quite official yet, though. With contracts for the supply of electricity for large sites, street lighting and small sites expiring on December 31, the recommendation is that the City enter into a long-term agreement to source 100 per cent renewable electricity supply.

Stay tuned.

To read the original story on RenewEconomy’s sister site, One Step Off The Grid, click here…

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1 Comment
  1. Ian 6 months ago

    Well done to Newcastle, perhaps they can use their savings to install batteries at their various sites such as the 5MW solar field or electric buses or some other FF replacing technology. At $4 million a year they could secure a loan of at least $70 million which could translate into a decent fleet of electric buses.

    Solar is roughly a $1/W to install, often less and can pay for itself in 3 years ie the return is roughly 30%. If Newcastle used its $4million savings to build more solar capacity every year then the multiplication of solar capacity over time will be outrageous. Year 0: 4MW year 1: 8 +1.2=9.6MW year 2: 13.2 + 2.8= 16MW year 3: 20 + 4.8=24.8MW year 4: 28.8+ 7.4= 36.2MW

    If Newcastle cannot use all that solar electricity, they could just pass the baton on to other neighbouring towns. Perhaps as a ‘seed funding’ . The plan could go something like this: we will give you, town x, $2 million provided you pay the equivalent and build 4MW of solar for your town. With the money you save, either use it to fund more solar for yourself or pass it on to another town under the same or similar conditions. A reverse Ponzi scheme.

    Check how this will grow: 0.3 +0.3=60% increase every year. Say $4million year zero, after 5years $4millionx 1.6^5= $42million

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