Sydney’s Train network will become one of the first public transport systems in Australia to transition to net zero emissions after striking a deal to purchase renewable energy certificates to offset its electricity use.
NSW transport minister, Rob Stokes, said the deal would allow the Sydney Train network to achieve a target of zero net emissions well before its original deadline of 2025.
The deal covers both the Sydney Trains and NSW TrainLink services, covering metro, intercity and regional services.
“Our rail operators have smashed the net zero target of 2025 by becoming the first heavy rail network in Australia to transition to completely green energy,” Stokes said.
“Transport is one of the largest consumers of energy, and we are investing in renewables for a greener future for our customers and our state.
“With over 3,200 timetabled train services every weekday, our rail network is not only the vital lifeblood of NSW, but is now leading Australia’s transition to a decarbonised public transport network.”
Sydney Trains chief executive Matt Longland said that the switch to green electricity was able to be facilitated through the agency’s existing electricity supply agreement with Snowy Hydro owned Red Energy.
The arrangement will see Red Energy purchase renewable energy certificates on behalf of Sydney Trains as its retailer – rather than through a direct contract with a solar or wind farm.
“Through this agreement, Sydney Trains has accelerated our original goal of reaching net zero emissions by 2025 to an immediate, greener reality, placing the railway at the forefront of NSW Government action on emissions reductions,” Longland said.
“Our electricity supply contract is 100 per cent renewable from now to the end of financial year 23/24, and we are preparing to go to market to test solutions to maintain a commitment to renewable energy into the future.”
The Sydney Metro network – which is a separate network of automated trains to those that run on the Sydney Train and TrainLink services – entered into a direct agreement with the Beryl solar farm to purchase both electricity and renewable energy certificates.
In addition to purchasing renewable certificates, Sydney Trains will aim to reduce its purchase of grid electricity by at least 10 per cent by 2025 by installing solar panels across 27 locations and improving the network’s energy efficiency.
According to emissions data published by the Clean Energy Regulator, the Sydney Trains network was responsible for around 550,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions in the 2019-20 year.
Public transport is generally considered a much more sustainable form of transport, compared to driving, and commitments to power the transport network with renewable energy helps improve its environmental benefits.
Sydney Trains’ switch to buying renewable energy follows similar moves made by the Melbourne Tram network, which has contracted to purchase power from a 75MW solar farm, and Canberra’s Light Rail system, which is renewably powered thanks to the ACT government’s policy of sourcing all of the ACT’s consumption from renewable energy projects.