Solar Power’s Role In Bendigo’s New Climate Plan

Bendigo Draft Climate Change & Environment Strategy

Greater Bendigo City Council yesterday released its draft Climate Change and Environment Strategy 2021-2026 for community comment.

The City of Greater Bendigo is a local government area situated about 150 kilometres north-west of the Melbourne CBD. As well as Bendigo itself, among the City’s many suburbs and localities are Heathcote, Lockwood and Ravenswood.

The LGA covers an area of around 3,000 km² and is home to approximately 120,000 people. Agriculture is a significant activity in the area –  including poultry and pig farming, sheep and cattle grazing, and vineyards. Climate change related threats such as more frequent and severe droughts, bushfires and storms are a growing concern.

“Council acknowledges the seriousness of the biodiversity and climate breakdown that is occurring and is committed to acting to protect the community and the ecosystems we depend on. Our health and future are directly linked to a healthy environment,” said City of Greater Bendigo Mayor Cr Jennifer Alden.

The action areas covered by the draft plan:

  • Zero carbon
  • Circular economy
  • Sustainable & Active Transport
  • Sustainable Food Systems
  • Water Sensitive Bendigo
  • Biodiversity and regeneration

Zero Carbon And Solar Energy

In terms of Council operations, goals to be achieved by 2026 under the zero carbon action area include:

  • No new gas connections in new council buildings built after this year
  • 60% of council owned and operated small and medium-sized  buildings transitioned from gas
  • 90% of Council owned buildings to have solar systems installed (100% by 2036)
  • 35% of  light vehicle fleet switched to electric (100% by 2036)
  • 15% of heavy plant vehicles switched to electric (100% by 2036)

For the wider City of Bendigo community, 2026 goals include:

  • 40% of households and businesses will have solar power systems installed
  • Electric vehicles represent 20% of all cars in Greater Bendigo
  • No gas connection in new subdivisions
  • One zero-carbon new development

In terms of the community solar installation goal, there’s some way to go. The Australian Photovoltaic Institute estimates approximately 24.7% dwellings had panels as at the end of March this year. APVI pegs the number of dwellings in the local government area at 54,491. So, 40% would be just shy of 21,800 systems compared to 14,224 installed as at the end of March – another ~7,600 installations in 5 years to make the target.

As well as the emissions and electricity bill reduction benefits for their owners, 7,600 PV installations over 5 years could keep a few solar installers in Bendigo quite busy and perhaps installations could bypass the 40% mark.

Solar is a pretty good deal in Bendigo – particularly at the moment as residents can “double-dip” on subsidies. Bendigoians (?) can take advantage of the national solar rebate that can knock thousands off a system, plus Victoria’s solar panel rebate currently worth up to an extra $1,400 subsidy.

A 6.6kW solar system (considered “entry-level” these days – many households are installing larger) installed in Bendigo could achieve simple payback in under 4 years based on results from SolarQuotes’ solar calculator used with its default settings.

Beyond the 2026 goals, Council has set its sights on 500% of the region’s 2021 energy demand to be sourced though locally generated renewables by 2036, and 50% community ownership of local renewable energy by the same year.

The draft strategy is available to view here, with submissions closing on September 6, 2021.

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.

Comments

  1. Some of these goals are pretty ambitious, and may be quite hard to achieve hopefully they are doing this with a well thought out plan and are able to meet/ beat these targets.

    hopefully this makes a few other LGA’s put forward ambitious plans.

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