Hepburn Shire Council Shoots For Zero Emissions By 2021

Hepburn Shire - Solar Energy

Hepburn Shire Council voted to adopt a Zero Emissions Roadmap and committed to the Victorian State Government’s Take 2 initiative at its last meeting.

Located in central Victoria, Hepburn Shire covers an area of 1,470 square kilometres and has a population of around 14,300. Its towns include Clunes, Creswick, Daylesford, Hepburn Springs and Trentham.

Council had already been making inroads in lightening its carbon footprint, reducing  greenhouse emissions by 21% between 2013 and the middle of this year. This was the result of various activities, including the installation of 118kW of solar power systems on eight council buildings. The solar energy aspect alone cut 11% of Council’s emissions, based on 2014-2015 levels.

Building on this success will be the implementation of the Towards Zero Emissions Roadmap that outlines how carbon neutrality can be reached over the next 4 years. In the 2015-16 financial year, electricity accounted for 38% of Council’s emissions, so solar will continue to play an important role in meeting the target.

Recommended solar-energy related activities under the Roadmap include a 25 kW system at Daylesford depot, 10kw of PV each at Trentham & Clunes swimming pools, and a potential 500kW solar project at a suitable site. The Roadmap states an alternative to the latter could be to partner with Hepburn Wind on its community solar farm project 1.

“The roadmap sets out a balanced approach that reduces Council’s emissions while simultaneously investing in our local economy and reducing the cost of business operations,” says a statement from Council.

Achieving the zero emissions target will require an investment of $1,305,000 over a four year period and will generate savings/revenue of $1,273,723 over twelve years. However, Council notes savings and revenue are significantly boosted when modelling is based on the full service life of installed equipment such as solar panels.

The Towards Zero Emissions Roadmap can be viewed here (PDF).

Council has also been promoting solar in the community. Early this month, it announced its participation in the Solar Savers program, which assists pensioner households to install solar panels with no upfront costs.

With regard to Take 2, that is the Victoria State Government’s collective climate change pledge initiative to reach net zero emissions by 2050 –  so all going well, Hepburn Shire will be achieving carbon neutrality well before that year and showing other local governments how it’s done.

Footnotes

  1. Hepburn Wind was Australia’s first community owned wind farm project
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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