Blue Mountains City aiming for Carbon Neutrality

New South Wales’ Blue Mountains City Council has set a goal of becoming carbon neutral by the end of 2025, and solar energy is expected to play a role.

Among the projects being undertaken towards carbon neutrality are the installation of energy efficient lighting across Council facilities, replacing street lighting, and installing 289 kW of rooftop solar power capacity at Council facilities. Among the sites to get solar panels during 2019/20 are tourist parks at Katoomba and Blackheath.

“It seems clear the single most important thing we can do to stop climate change is reduce emissions, and as the third council in NSW to declare a climate emergency, it’s an issue we take very seriously,” said Blue Mountains Mayor Mark Greenhill.

The key to executing projects is Council’s Carbon Revolving Reserve (CRR), which has committed more than $1.7 million to energy efficiency and renewable energy. The CRR was created using money set aside for Australia’s carbon pricing mechanism that was revoked in 2014. The financial savings achieved from projects, such as savings on electricity costs, are diverted back into the CRR.

Regarding emission reduction targets, Council had originally set a 20% reduction goal by 2022, then upped that to 30%. It has achieved a 22% reduction to date in Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions1.

To achieve carbon neutrality by 2025, Council will reduce its emissions as far as possible, then purchase offsets to cover what remains. It is also looking into joining other Western Sydney Councils in a renewable energy power purchase agreement (PPA).

“Council is constantly looking for opportunities to improve our operations and make sure sustainability is part of everything we do, and targets like this one are an effective way to encourage further improvement,” said Mayor Greenhill.

The Blue Mountains Local Government Area (LGA) covers 140,377 hectares, 74% of which consists of National Park. As at June this year, approximately 20.5% of dwellings had solar panels installed. At that point, the LGA was home to approximately 24MW of solar power capacity, with close to 21MW of the total being PV systems below 10kW capacity.