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Renewable energy and Energy Efficiency


Renewable energy comes from natural resources like sunlight, wind and waves. Over the past five years the share of wind and solar in the NSW electricity generation mix has tripled. This includes generation from rooftop solar and large scale solar and wind farms. Renewable energy is now the cheapest form of new power generation in Australia, placing downward pressure on electricity prices (Energy NSW). 

The Georges River LGA produces approximately 1 million tonnes of greenhouse gases each year (Kinesis 2022). Of this, electricity is the highest source of emissions in our community. 

The burning of fossil fuels creates greenhouse gas emissions like carbon dioxide and methane. The term ‘greenhouse gas’ refers to the effect these emissions have, keeping heat from the sun trapped within the earth’s atmosphere. It’s essential we limit warming to 1.5 degrees in order to prevent more frequent and severe weather events associated with climate change.

The NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (AdaptNSW) estimate by 2070, Georges River will experience an average temperature increase of 1.9 degrees and an additional 11 days over 35 degrees each year.  

In line with Federal and State Government commitments, Council has adopted a target of net zero community emissions by 2050. Council also declared a climate emergency in 2021 and has adopted a target of net zero emissions for Council operations by 2025.
 

What is Council doing?

Council has achieved its target to source 100% renewable energy for its operations 3 years early, with a new contract beginning July 2022.

Council is participating in the Cities Power Partnership. Our pledges will ensure emission reductions and clean energy successes, enabling a sustainable future for the area we live in. We’ve already completed our first five pledges and have committed to an additional 5.

Council joined the Cities Race to Zero, a global campaign run by the COP26 Presidency to demonstrate Council’s support for inclusive climate action in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement. Through participation in this program Council has declared a climate a climate emergency, recognising the urgent need for climate action. Council has selected the following Cities Race to Zero priorities, to be delivered by 2050. 

  • Developing 30 minute neighbourhoods throughout the city, where residents are able to meet most of their needs within a short walk or bicycle ride from their homes.
  • Promote the use of clean energy sources for heating and cooling buildings.
  • Ensuring policies and actions aim to optimise, repurpose and retrofit existing buildings and infrastructure before building new assets.
  • Assess the impact that the choice of materials and construction design will have on the city’s overall resilience to climate impacts. Such as increasing urban heat island, impermeable surfaces increasing the risk of flooding and more.

Council introduced a new Environmental Sustainability Clause (6.11) in the Georges River Local Environment Plan (LEP) 2021, ensuring applicable developments are consistent with the principles of best practice environmentally sensitive design.

Solar has been installed on 12 Council facilities, including all six of our childcare centres. Its over 273 kW of solar!

Council is currently participating in the ‘Accelerated Streetlight Replacement Program” with the Southern Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (SSROC) and Ausgrid, replacing streetlights with LEDs for reduced energy consumption.

We’ve upgraded 170 electricity meters to smart meters, identifying significant saving opportunities by observing trends that were not previously available.

Since 2018 we’ve been implementing an Energy Management Plan, a roadmap to improve energy efficiency in Council’s facilities. We’ve been fine-tuning Council’s building management system, optimising heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system performance. We’ve also upgraded fluorescent light fittings to LEDs.

 

What can you do?

  • Install Solar

    Installing solar is a great way to do your bit for the environment and save money on your electricity bills. More than 16% of the Georges River community have already installed solar (APVI 2022). 

    The cost of installing solar starts at about $3500 for a basic installation. With a payback period of three to five years and a lifespan of 25 years, installing solar is an investment that will save on electricity bills for years to come (energy.gov.au).  

    Use the Australian PV Institute’s SunSPoT map to determine your homes solar potential. This tool is a guide, it will help you understand if your roof gets enough sun to make an installation worthwhile. The tool will also provide an approximate solar system size for your home and an estimated cost.  

    The Clean Energy Council's Guide to installing solar for households will help you understand the next steps including the installation process and what to look out for in your quote.  

    Make sure you compare a few quotes and use a Clean Energy Council accredited installer.  

    The NSW Government are offering a solar for low income households program so if you are a low income household in the Georges River LGA visit their website to determine your eligibility. 

    Tips:  

    • A solar system should be sized specifically for your family's needs based on historic energy usage. A solar retailer should use data from your energy provider to determine the correct size and a realistic payback period. If you have a smart meter the solar retailer may access this data directly through your energy provider, or you may need to provide it through old bills. 

    • It is good practice for a solar retailer to visit your home before you sign a contract, this way any unforeseen costs like additional wiring can be accounted for. ​
  • Be energy efficient

    Heating and cooling accounts for approximately 40% of household energy use (YourHome). There are lots of easy and cheap ways you can keep your home cool in summer and warm in winter, reducing your reliance on the heater or air conditioner.  

    • Only heat or cool the room you are using. 
    • Check and seal gaps around windows and use a draught stopper under doors to prevent temperature changes.  
    • Consider window awnings, shutters and pergolas or even planting a few trees, as shading can block up to 90% of the heat from direct sunlight. 
    • Each degree of extra heating in winter or cooling in summer increases energy consumption by about 5–10%. Set the temperature to 18 to 20°C in winter and 25 to 27°C in summer (YourHome). 
     

    Your hot water system accounts for 21% of the energy used in your home. Consider the following actions to save energy and reduce your bill: 

    • Often the hot water system is overlooked and when it breaks its replaced in a rush without considering efficiency. Plan ahead and consider a solar hot water or heat pump system for next time.   
    • The less water you use, the less you’ll energy you’ll need heating it. Take shorter showers and only use what you need. You’ll also save on your energy bills and help save water. 
    • Install water efficient fixtures like low flow shower heads and duel flush toilets. Use the Federal Governments water rating label to help with your purchasing decision.  
     

    Other steps: 

    • Turn off appliances at the wall to stop them going on standby  
    • Use natural light wherever possible 
    • Replace old incandescent or halogen lights with LED lights 
    • Buy appliances with a high energy-saving rating. Use the Federal Government’s energy rating label to help with your decision.  
  • Take up GreenPower

    If you would like to support renewable energy uptake but are unable to install solar, consider purchasing GreenPower electricity.

    GreenPower is a NSW Government led program that ensures when you purchase renewable electricity from a provider, the same amount of renewable energy is actually fed into the grid.

    You can use the GreenPower website to find an electricity retailer that suits your needs.

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