All of central Sydney's electricity, heating and cooling needs could be met from renewable energy sources according to the most detailed investigation ever undertaken of renewable energy resources in and around Sydney.
A draft renewable energy master plan prepared by the City of Sydney provides a blueprint for providing 30 per cent of the city's electricity demand from carbon-free renewable electricity, mainly from harnessing solar and wind power, and 70 per cent from renewable gases derived from waste.
Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the plan outlined how 100 per cent of the city local government area's electricity, heating and cooling could be supplied from renewable sources by 2030.
In developing its renewable energy master plan, the City researched best practice in other countries that are moving towards a 100 per cent renewable energy system.
The research found that cities leading the way in renewable energy are using precinct scale decentralised energy networks based on cogeneration or trigeneration.
They are then able to provide a 100 per cent renewable energy system using renewable gases from waste, renewable heat from solar or geothermal energy as well as renewable electricity technologies.
"This plan provides an invaluable road map detailing where all the renewable resources exist, how much it costs to harness them and how we can use them to help deliver a 100 per cent clean renewable energy system for Sydney," the Lord Mayor said.
"Renewable gas is made from waste - a valuable renewable energy resource widely used overseas. At present we only capture a tiny proportion of the potential energy available from garbage, sewage plants, landfill sites, livestock, agriculture, and forestry waste to generate electricity.
"Projects in Europe are currently capturing 80 per cent of the primary renewable energy resource so we've got a lot to catch up to.
"The City's plans for precinct scale trigeneration will kick-start a new market for renewable gases which will improve the commercial viability of energy from waste projects.
"Our research identified that there is more than enough waste resources within a 250 km radius of Sydney to produce renewable gases to supply 100 per cent of the fuel needed for a future trigeneration energy network.
"All this should be of immense interest to State and Federal Ministers who are concerned about future shortages of natural gas. This master plan proves renewable gas is a viable option, and we know it works because it's already used around the world.
"We encourage other governments to urgently start work on developing a renewable gas market and set a national renewable gas target, rather than focussing on coal seam gas which is dangerous for our natural environment and water supply.
"It's beyond the scope of our plan, but our work has showed that there is potential to export renewable energy. Australia's biggest contribution to climate change is its exports of coal and gas - but we could be exporting renewable gas and contributing towards global emission reductions."
Utilising emerging 'power to gas' developed in Germany and liquefied renewable gas (LRG) technologies, Australia could access large amounts of renewable energy resources in the remotest parts of Australia for export using existing liquefied natural gas (LNG) infrastructure.
In Germany, the most industrialised country in Europe, 25 per cent of Germany's total energy consumption was met by renewable energy resources in 2012. Germany's Renewable Energy Sources Act sets targets to increase the share of renewable energy to 40 per cent by 2020 and to 80 per cent by 2050.
Germany has developed 'power to gas' technologies capturing surplus wind and solar power for injection into the gas grid. This model is now being copied by the North Sea Power to Gas Platform project run by the electricity and gas network operators in Germany, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Denmark, Norway and the UK to convert offshore wind and coastal solar PV to renewable gas for injection into the European gas grid.
In Copenhagen 33 per cent of the decentralised energy network supplying 98 per cent of the City of Copenhagen is now supplied by biomass, renewable gases and energy from waste. Their target is to replace all fossil fuels supplying the district energy network with renewable fuels and gases by 2025.
The City of Sydney's plan has been prepared with input from three major consulting firms. Arup carried out the technical analysis, the Allen Consulting Group carried out the financial and economic analysis and Talent with Energy carried out work on the supply infrastructure for renewable gases.
For interviews with Lord Mayor Clover Moore, contact Shehana Teixeira on
0418 238 373 or email email@example.com