As part of a power purchase agreement, the City of Adelaide’s municipal operations have been powered by 100% renewables since July 2020, using electricity generated from wind farms in mid-north South Australia and new solar PV farms on Eyre Peninsula and in the South East. This long-term commitment supports the Adelaide Carbon Neutral Strategy 2015-2025, which sets a target for carbon neutrality by 2025.

As a step towards achieving this goal, the City adopted the Carbon Neutral Adelaide Action Plan 2016-2021 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The plan sets out 104 actions for council and local government under several low-emission pathways: energy-efficient built form, promoting walking and cycling, hybrid and electric vehicles for individuals and businesses, “zero-emission” transport, towards 100% renewables with solar PV and solar hot water, reducing emissions from waste and water use, and offsetting carbon emissions. The projects under the 100% renewable pathway generate cost savings for residents and businesses along with reducing emissions. In total, the city had installed 8.3 MW-peak of solar PV capacity as of 2019, including 2,362 kilowatts (kW) at city-owned and -operated sites.

Local government investments in energy storage support the deployment of new affordable storage technologies. For example, the Hornsdale Power Reserve, referred to as South Australia’s Big Battery, was established in 2017 with 100 MW-peak, and another 50 MW-peak had been added in early 2020. Located next to the 316 MW Hornsdale Wind Farm, the Power Reserve is one of the world’s largest lithium-ion batteries, providing grid services that enable the penetration of variable renewable energy sources like wind and solar power.

In addition, the Carbon Neutral Adelaide Action Plan provides incentives to create new economic opportunities and to support the business sector. Building upgrade finance provided by private financiers in partnership with the local council helps to improve the energy, water and environmental efficiency of non-residential buildings and infrastructure. This mechanism offers loans from the financier to building owners, which are repaid by the local council. Upgrading the infrastructure provides financial returns and has the potential to reduce electricity use 43% by 2030.

The Sustainability Incentive Scheme and the CitySwitch Green Office support city residents with financial incentives for the uptake of sustainability practices, technology and trends for low-carbon living. Rebates of up to AUD 5,000 (USD 3,831) are available for households, businesses and car parks for the installation of energy-saving technologies, solar PV systems, EV charging, solar hot water systems and energy storage systems.

The City of Adelaide also is assessing adaptation actions to increase the energy self-sufficiency of its wastewater treatment plants by harnessing biogas to generate renewable electricity. A total of 39,000 megawatt-hours (MWh) was generated from wastewater biogas in 2018-19. In parallel, the local government has been exploring the potential of carbon offset projects. In 2017, a demonstration carbon sequestration site was established near Adelaide High School to provide the community with a practical example of a carbon sink.

Source: See endnote 24 in the Urban Policy Landscape chapter.