Inner West Council Wants To Boost Region’s Solar 1,000%

Solar energy - Sydney's Inner West

Image: Inner West Council

Sydney’s Inner West Council is aiming to increase solar installations on residential, commercial, industrial and community buildings within its boundaries in a very big way.

The Inner West Council area covers the inner western region of Sydney. There were 182,043 people in the region in Census 2016, which includes suburbs such as Leichhardt, Marrickville and Balmain.

Council says the population is committed to environmental responsibility, but uptake of solar power on private properties is very low.

Information from the Australian Photovoltaic Institute (APVI) indicates that as at the end of September last year, approximately 9.5% of residential dwellings in the local government area (LGA) had solar panels installed. Council puts the figure much lower at just 4%. For New South Wales as a whole, it’s 20% (APVI).

Among the reasons given for low uptake are the LGA’s high proportion of renters (43.6% – Census 2016), strata units (39.7%) and low daytime household electricity consumption.

As a step towards addressing the issue, Inner West Council is inviting organisations to design a system to turn things around.

“We want to establish Council as a broker to facilitate the large-scale installation of solar on buildings and homes across the Inner West,” said Mayor Darcy Byrne. “There are thousands of rooftops, large and small, that should be generating renewable energy and making a return for property owners.”

Acting as a broker, it intends to source capital from superannuation funds, banks and other investors under what’s been called the “Go Solar Program”.

“In doing so we can create a profit for property owners and investors while massively reducing carbon emissions,” states Mayor Byrne.

Setting A Big Goal

Mayor Byrne says Council is aiming for a 1,000% increase in solar energy generation across the Inner West over the next decade. As at the end of September, 19.963 megawatts of solar capacity was installed in the LGA (APVI), with 12.88 megawatts of that total being installations under 10kW.

Assuming Council can reach its target, that be would around 219.5MW installed by 2030/31 based on the September figure. Mayor Byrne says this can be achieved by “covering every factory, apartment block and shopping centre in solar panels”, along with a strong focus on other residential installations.

Expressions of interest for designing a system to achieve the goal have been invited from commercial and not for profit entities. The EOI period closes on March 18, 2020.

As for solar power and emissions reduction related to its own operations, Inner West Council has a target for achieving carbon neutrality by 2023 and attaining 100% renewables (electricity use) by 2025.

Council has PV installed on some of its buildings and in July last year, a contract to purchase power from the Moree Solar Farm came into effect, which will cover approximately 25% of all Council’s electricity usage.

Last June, Inner West became the first council in the state to be totally divested from fossil fuels.

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.


  1. Roger the Shrubber says

    I wonder if a factor is that terrace houses and other small cottages don’t generally fit many panels to bother with.

  2. Des Scahill says

    This is the future of coal – at least in Wyoming USA.

    In a desperate last ditch attempt to keep it’s coal mining industry alive,
    ‘Wyoming lawmakers proposed a bill this week that could penalize utility companies for using renewable energy sources to supply electricity to ratepayers.’

    Continuing mine closures have seriously affected the states economy and…

    ‘This week’s draft bill attempts to ease the forthcoming economic disruption by subsidizing energy sources integral to Wyoming’s economy, like coal. Setting up financial disincentives for utilities to invest in renewable energy could preserve the state’s dominant fossil fuel market.’

    OK -it’s King Canute trying to hold the tide back, and is doomed to fail simply because of the economics


    But here in OZ, well…

    ‘ Climate activists have launched a fresh campaign against Woodside’s massive proposed gas hub in Western Australia, warning it will be the nation’s biggest polluter.

    The Conversation Council of WA (CCWA) says if the $50 billion Burrup Hub liquefied natural gas development goes ahead, it will produce billions of tonnes of carbon emissions over its lifetime and undermine Australia’s global commitments. ‘

    Opponents claim ‘…that if the Burrup Hub development goes ahead, it will produce four times as many annual carbon emissions as Adani’s proposed Carmichael coal mine. ‘

    The proposed agreement with Woodside would last until 2070.

    Meanwhile… Queensland and perhaps Australia as a whole, is heading for big-time budget deficits as… tourist industry collapse, declining retail and manufacturing activity, diminishing mining royalty income PLUS as noted in the QLD State Budget Papers, the significant costs of responding to ‘natural disasters’ such as extreme weather events.

    • Des Scahill says

      Oops, left out the link to pending QLD economy problems

    • New Coal mining or gas mining has little financial befits to Australia as its all independently owned and managed by corporations that wont pay tax’s or if they do its subsidized so much that it hardly makes a dent to any state coffers.
      Sure there are job increases but only to a point, take WA last mining Owners grips at needing to bring works outside Australia as their staff numbers were so low (ignoring the fact that safety including mentality and pay were the factors of low employment).
      QLD’s plans for more coal fired generators after this fire season is to me horrifying, akin to salting the earth of burned bush land areas or pouring water over a drowning man.
      Even Nuclear power causes less harm than coal/ diesel and gas generator plants.

  3. Ronald Brakels says

    What we want is for homes with single phase power to be able to install 10 kilowatt inverters so every home can install a large system and for over voltage events to be extremely rare. This will require some upgrades to the local grid, but it’s well worth it. The benefit (clean air, more stable climate) greatly outweighs the cost.

  4. I’m more surprised all homes are now setup with three Phase power as default.

  5. It is great news that solar energy consumption on private property will increase. I think this is the future!

  6. Ian Garradd says

    It’s great that for units now there are systems that split & share the rooftop solar to all the unit holders who participate and including the common area.

    It’s also possible to have your gas hot water replaced for no upfront costs & immediately start saving money on bills.
    The same for solar PV where we are having a 45 kW PV system installed on our block of 47 units and the system will be installed at no cost, if at least 30 residents sign up which they have done now. savings of around 25% will start immediately connectin & installation of systems

    That is happening in Gosford & around Sydney now too

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