Australian states, territories and local governments leading the way on renewables and climate commitments

We started tracking the commitments of states, territories and local governments in 2014 when we developed the Renewable Energy Master Plan for Lismore City Council. It was only three years ago, but back then, there were few pledges to ambitious carbon reduction or renewable energy targets. There was the ACT Government’s commitment to 100% renewable energy by 2025[1], and the commitment of two small Victorian towns to go fully renewable.

Lismore Council was the first regional council to make an ambitious pledge to self-generate all of their electricity needs from renewables by 2023. Since then, a lot of councils have followed suit. This is a trend that is being replicated across the world. While there might not always be support for a more sustainable energy future on a national level, at both states and local government levels, there is significant action to help combat climate change.

What follows are three tables that showcase the commitments of states and territories, followed by Australia’s capital cities, followed by local governments.

Carbon reduction and RE commitments of states and territories

State or territory Commitment
Australia 20% from renewable energy sources by 2020[2]
ACT 100% renewable energy by 2020
QLD 50% renewable energy by 2030
NT 50% renewable energy by 2030
SA 50% renewable energy by 2025
NSW Zero net emissions by 2050
VIC Zero net emissions by 2050

Carbon reduction and RE commitments of capital cities:

Capital City Commitment
Brisbane Carbon neutral, from 2017[3]
Melbourne Carbon neutral by 2020
Sydney Reduce emissions by 70% by 2030
Adelaide First carbon neutral town by 2050
Perth Reduce emissions by 20% by 2020
Facilitate a 32% reduction in citywide emissions by 2031

Ambitious carbon reduction and RE commitments of local governments and LGAs:


Council or Local Government Area Commitment
Newstead Village 100% by 2017
Yackandandah Town 100% by 2022
Lismore Council Self-generate all electricity needs from renewable sources by 2023
Tweed Shire Council 100% renewable energy
Coffs Harbour Council 100% renewable energy by 2030
Tyalgum Village Off the grid, 100% renewable energy, with batteries
Uralla Town Plan to be first zero net energy town
Byron Bay Shire Plan for first zero net emissions community
Leichhardt Council 100% renewable energy by 2030[4]
City of Greater Bendigo 100% renewable energy by 2036
Bega Valley Shire Council Currently evaluating ambitious target
Eurobodalla Council 100% renewable energy by 2030

Local governments with mid-scale developments

In this section, we want to capture where local governments look at mid-scale developments. These are renewable energy installations that range from 0.5MW to roughly 10MW in size. The energy output from these plants is meant to cover the operational energy needs of a council but could be oversized to also cover the needs of the community. 2017 is only the start for mid-scale developments, but we predict that this market will have huge potential going forward.

Electricity prices are going up, the price for renewables has fallen sharply, and the price for LGCs (Large-Scale Generation Certificates) is high. Selling these Renewable Energy Certificates provides a secondary income stream for councils that used to rely on ratepayers only for their income. We used to think that 2020 was the year that it would make sense for councils to develop mid-scale power plants. However, prices for renewables have fallen much more rapidly than predicted, such that it makes sense for councils to look at this opportunity now.

Entity Mid-scale and similar noteworthy developments
Sunshine Coast Council Valdora solar farm, 15 MW, under construction
Newcastle Council EOI for 5MW Summerhill solar farm on capped landfill site
City of Fremantle 2-10MW solar farm on former South Fremantle landfill site is being investigated by the City of Fremantle
ACT As part of its 100% renewable energy commitment, the ACT has facilitated the construction of three solar PV farms within the ACT, including Royalla (20 MW), Mt Majura (2.3 MW) and Mugga Lane (13 MW) via its reverse auction process.

[1] Later revised down to 2020

[2] Australia’s Renewable Energy Target (RET) is a Federal Government policy that ensures that at least 33,000 GWh of Australia’s electricity comes from renewable sources by 2020, which roughly equals 20%.


[4] Currently investigating its strategy for the amalgamated ‘Inner West Council’