Australian Councils Flock To Solar Power

Solar power and Australian councils

Image: Australian Local Government Climate Review 2018

The Australian Local Government Climate Review 2018, published early this month, reveals the nation’s councils are performing well in delivering energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.

A collaborative effort from Beyond Zero Emissions, ICLEI Oceania and Ironbark, the report is based on review of 537 Australian local government websites and what it states was the most comprehensive local government and climate change survey in Australian history. The survey responses were collected between 16 November 2017 – 19 January 2018.

The review of council websites revealed half had information addressing climate change issues and 48% contained actions focusing on reducing or saving energy.

The online survey resulted in 114 completed responses.

64% of responding councils had corporate emissions reduction strategies, plans and/or policies implemented, while 29% reported an intention to do so.

Solar PV A Popular Emissions Reductions Choice

In terms of measures implemented by councils to reduce corporate emissions, solar power topped the list; with 97% indicating the installation of solar PV on council facilities.

Beyond actions to rein in emissions from councils’ own activities, some are also making efforts towards reducing emissions in their communities.

22% of councils had community emissions reductions strategies, plans and/or policies in place, with the following actions related to solar energy:

  • 47% – Bulk buy solar PV programs for residents
  • 44% – Advise and advocate for community-owned renewable energy
  • 14% – Rebates for residential or commercial solar

Among the Councils to offer rebates is City of Adelaide, which is providing additional incentives to Australia’s major solar subsidy – up to $5,000 for PV system installations and up to $5,000 for solar battery systems.

“This report shows councils and their communities are stepping up in the wake of federal inaction to lead the way on climate change,” said Imogen Jubb, National Manager of Zero Carbon Communities at Beyond Zero Emissions. “It is encouraging to see that many councils are setting 100% renewable energy goals and emission targets, in line with best practice internationally.”

The report notes the majority (54%) of council emission reduction initiatives are solar PV related. The use of solar power also has the added (and very important) benefit of slashing electricity costs for councils. For example, we reported last week a $2 million solar power investment by Mackay Regional Council is expected to save nearly $17 million in electricity costs over the next two decades.

As to attitudes towards efforts at a national level, only 3% of survey respondents were somewhat satisfied with the Federal Government’s approach to meeting global emissions targets, with 88% somewhat, or very, dissatisfied.

The full Australian Local Government Climate Review 2018, which includes the questions asked in the survey, can be downloaded here (PDF).

About Michael Bloch

Michael caught the solar power bug after purchasing components to cobble together a small off-grid PV system in 2008. He's been reporting on Australian and international solar energy news ever since.

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