The City has made a commitment to reduce emissions by 70 per cent, from 2006 levels, by 2030, and if we could move to 100 per cent renewable energy straight away we would.
However, all our research so far shows trigeneration is one of the most practical, economical and environmentally friendly ways we can dramatically reduce emissions now and make the transition to 100 per cent renewable energy by using renewable gases extracted from waste.
Evidence from around the world shows trigeneration is used to transition to a renewable energy future and would enable us to immediately reduce the emissions from any building connected to the network by up to 60 per cent, compared to business as usual electricity supplied from a coal fired generator.
We have committed to moving from the use of natural gas in the network to renewable gases derived from waste and biomass by 2030. This is part of the contract we are negotiating with Cogent Energy.
Our work shows there are already significant renewable gas resources within 250km of Sydney. There is more than enough domestic waste, sewage and crop and livestock waste to produce enough renewable gas to replace 100 per cent of natural gas supplying the trigeneration network.
This will be detailed in the Renewable Energy Master plan to be released later this year.
Our Trigeneration Master Plan is flexible enough to adapt to changing circumstances, so if renewable gas becomes more cost effective than natural gas before 2030, we can make the switch earlier too.
The City has made our position on coal seam gas (CSG) very clear - we find the method commonly used to extract CSG, called fracking, unacceptable because of its risks to the environment.
The fact is, the City's trigeneration project will have a minimal impact on demand for gas. If our entire trigeneration network was implemented by 2030 it would only be using 3 per cent of natural gas in NSW and only 1 per cent of the Eastern Gas Market, covering Qld, NSW, Vic and S.A.
Trigeneration is already used by a number of buildings in Sydney. We are creating networks to make it easier and more efficient for buildings to connect to trigeneration which will significantly reduce emissions in our city.
Trigeneration is just one way the City is reducing carbon emissions. We are also retrofitting our buildings to make them more energy efficient which will lower emissions by 20 per cent as well as reduce energy costs.
We've already invested heavily in solar power, progressively rolling out more than 5,500 solar panels over 30 of our sites as part of a $4.3 million project - one of the largest building-mounted solar panel projects in Australia.
The Renewable Energy Master Plan will outline how renewable electricity could supply 30 per cent of the electricity needs of the City of Sydney local government area 2030, using a mixture of renewable energy technologies, including solar and wind.
The Master Plan will follow world renewable energy best practice, including Germany's solar, wind and renewable gas programs.
As renewable energy infrastructure becomes more readily available in Australia, reducing the price, we can and will vary our strategy according to what is the most economical, practical and environmentally sustainable way to reduce emissions.
Unlike many governments, the City has moved from academic and theoretical greenhouse gas reductions to implementing and completing projects to deliver them.
We've already cut emissions by 20 per cent from 2006 levels and are on track to reach our 70 per cent target by 2030 with energy efficiency measures, renewable energy and trigeneration.