New South Wales’ Byron Shire Council has invited the local community to provide feedback on its Net Zero Emissions Action Plan.
Back in 2017, Council committed to achieving net zero emissions in relation to its operations by 2025, and to source 100% of its energy from renewables by 2027. This led to the development of the Net Zero Emissions Strategy for Council Operations 2025, which was adopted in 2019.
The strategy has so far resulted in more solar being installed on Council buildings, and in June it committed cash to progress a 5MW solar farm project to detailed feasibility and procurement phase. This project forms an important part of Council’s 100% renewables goal.
The draft Action Plan, which is to sit alongside the Strategy when finalised, looks at where Council is now and what needs to be done to reach the net zero emissions target by 2025.
As to where it currently sits in terms of electricity, Council has installed 600kW of PV on its assets; including a 99 kW solar carport structure at its administration building in Mullumbimby (pictured above). Council also switched to a carbon neutral electricity retailer last year to offset 100% of its emissions.
“While offsetting electricity usage is a step in the right direction, if Council is to truly mitigate the carbon footprint of its electricity usage, more needs to be done to reduce the total consumption within Council operations.”
Its related goals:
- To transition to renewables at a minimum rate of 20% per annum.
- Improve Council operations energy efficiency by a minimum of 5% per annum.
- Maximise renewable energy generation on Council owned assets.
… and the latter means more solar panels on more buildings. But the Action Plan involves much more than just building a solar farm and whacking up lots of solar panels and LED lighting about the place.
A Shift To Electric Vehicles
Byron Shire Council notes fuel consumed by its fleet vehicles accounts for 6.5% of operational emissions. In terms of addressing this, the goals are to:
- Reduce fuel use by 2.5% per annum.
- Transition its passenger vehicle fleet to electric vehicles.
- Pursue alternative renewable fuel sources for equipment and fleet.
- Also support the uptake of electric vehicles in Byron Shire.
The draft plan also has goals and actions related to Waste, Water and Sewer; Governance and Community Infrastructure.
The community consultation is open for contributions until Monday 5 October 2020. It’s expected the Action Plan will be presented to Council for adoption before the end of the year.
Anything to do with solar is likely to have significant support given PV’s popularity in Byron Shire. For example, in Byron Bay, solar panels are a very common sight on rooftops of homes and businesses. As at the end of June this year, more than 2,201 small-scale solar power systems had been installed in postcode 2481; an incredible effort given a population of less than 10,000.