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Sydney council goes green with electric vehicles and solar PV

20th Feb 2013

Many of us could do with turning a new leaf when it comes to energy consumption.

That's why it's great to see when organisations provide a good example of how to make energy efficiency a priority.

The City of Sydney is one such organisation. The City recently announced that it is planning to use solar PV arrays on council buildings to offset the charging of a new fleet of Nissan Leaf electric vehicles.

This would create a net zero-emission fuelling strategy with benefits not only for the council's budget, but for pollution levels in the city as well.

The ten new Nissan Leafs will replace the same number of Toyota Prius hybrid petrol-electric vehicles. Yet if the Prius may already seem like the green car of choice, the City of Sydney chose to go one better.

Lord mayor Clover Moore said that while the current hybrid cars had better fuel efficiency than standard vehicles, they still used petrol and emitted fumes.

A switch to "the latest pollution-free technology" would allow the City to be even more cost-effective with its use of vehicles.

"A shift to electric cars powered by low-carbon energy has benefits for everyone - lower running costs, lower pollution and quieter streets," said Mr Moore in a statement issued February 15.

Having council workers driving the cars is one thing, but getting the general population into them will be the next challenge, according to the lord mayor.

"To make electric vehicles a more viable option for people, government and industry must work together to install the critical infrastructure drivers need to easily recharge their vehicles," said Mr Moore.

The City of Sydney has so far installed seven charging stations for electric vehicles, at its public parking stations in Kings Cross and Goulburn Street.

The plan to offset the electricity used by vehicles recharging in the city will be aided by the planned installation of 5,500 solar panel systems on 30 buildings over the next year and a half.

The future of electric cars in Australia, while yet unknown, may get a boost when American electric car manufacturer Tesla's Model S hits showrooms at the end of this year.

While the Model S is a fine piece of tech, the manufacturer's Supercharger network of solar powered recharge stations - already growing in the US - might help convince local drivers to go electric.

If such a network were installed here in Australia, long distance petrol-free travel would become a reality.

Posted by Mike Peacock

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