Carbon and renewable energy commitments in Australia by states, territories and local governments - 100% Renewables

Carbon and renewable energy commitments in Australia by states, territories and local governments



Ambitious climate action commitments by states, local governments and communities – Sep 2020


We have been tracking ambitious sustainability commitments made by local governments since we developed the Renewable Energy Master Plan for Lismore City Council in 2014. In May 2017, we had enough material to publish our first blog post on the energy and carbon commitments of states, territories and local governments. Over the course of just one year, many new commitments have been made which reflect the increased expectation in the community that governments take action on climate change and move to a clean energy future.

With all these new commitments we thought it was time to publish the updates in a blog post. Below are three tables that showcase the commitments of states and territories, followed by capital cities, and local governments.

States’ and territories’ commitments

States and territories are committing to both renewable energy as well as carbon reduction targets.

State or territoryCommitments
Australia20% from renewable energy sources by 2020
26-28% emissions reduction from 2005 levels by 2030
ACT100% renewable electricity by 2020
40% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions on 1990 levels by 2020
Zero net emissions by 2050
NSW20% from renewable energy in line with the RET
Zero net emissions by 2050
NT50% renewable energy by 2030
SA50% renewable energy by 2025 (75% by 2025 now proposed by SA Govt)
Zero net emissions by 2050
QLD50% renewable energy by 2030
Zero net emissions by 2050
VIC40% renewable energy by 2025
Zero net emissions by 2050
TAS100% renewable energy by 2022
Commitment to establish a zero net emissions target by 2050

Capital cities’ commitments

Australian capital cities have mostly committed to carbon reduction goals, with many of them targeting or having already achieved carbon neutral/net zero emissions status.

Capital CityCommitment
ACT GovernmentCarbon neutral by 2020
City of AdelaideZero net emissions from council operations by 2020
First carbon neutral town by 2050
Brisbane City CouncilCarbon neutral council from 2017
Melbourne City CouncilCarbon neutral council by 2020
City of PerthReduce council emissions by 20% by 2020
Facilitate a 32% reduction in citywide emissions by 2031
City of SydneyReduce emissions by 70% for the LGA by 2030
50% renewable energy for the LGA by 2030
Net zero emissions for the LGA by 2050

Local governments’ and LGAs’ commitments

This table showcases ambitious carbon and energy commitments by local governments and their communities. While there are many more councils with carbon reduction and renewable energy commitments, this table focuses on the ones that have committed to going all the way – to 100% renewable energy, or zero net emissions.

Council or Local Government AreaCommitment
Byron Shire Council100% renewable energy by 2027
Net zero emissions by 2025
Byron Bay communityPlan for first zero net emissions community
City of Greater Bendigo100% renewable energy by 2036
Coffs Harbour City Council100% renewable energy by 2030
Eurobodalla Shire Council100% renewable energy by 2030
City of FremantleOperations carbon neutral by 2020
100% renewable energy by 2025
Zero carbon for LGA by 2025
Gold Coast City CouncilCarbon neutral by 2020
City of Greater GeelongZero carbon council by 2050
Lismore City CouncilSelf-generate all electricity needs from renewable sources by 2023
Mullumbimby100% renewable energy by 2020
Newstead Village100% renewable energy by 2017
City of ParramattaCarbon neutral by 2022 with 60% emissions reduction by 2038 based on 2015 levels
Port Macquarie-Hastings Council100% renewable energy by 2027
City of Port PhillipZero net emissions by 2020
Tweed Shire Council100% renewable energy
Tyalgum VillageOff the grid, 100% renewable energy, with batteries
Uralla TownPlan to be first zero net energy town
Yackandandah Town100% renewable energy by 2022


To meet ambitious renewable energy commitments, councils have two options. They can either build mid-scale plants to meet their operational energy needs, or they can go to market to purchase offsite renewables. The following two sections showcase a few examples for each option.

Local governments with mid-scale developments

In this section, we want to capture where local governments look at mid-scale (also customer-scale) developments. These are renewable energy installations that typically range from 0.5MW to 15MW in size. The energy output from these plants is meant to cover all or part of the operational energy needs of a council but could be oversized to also cover the power needs of the community.

In July 2017, the Sunshine Coast Council became the first local government in Australia to offset its entire electricity consumption from its Valdora solar farm. The council estimates that over the 30 years lifetime of the project, it will save $22m compared to grid electricity costs.

2017 saw the start of mid-scale developments by councils, but this market has big potential going forward. Electricity prices are volatile, while the price for renewables has fallen sharply, and the price for LGCs (Large-Scale Generation Certificates) remains high. Several councils are currently developing or considering implementing a mid-scale plant before 2020 to make sure they can sell LGCs into the market.

Project developerMid-scale and similar noteworthy developments
Sunshine Coast CouncilValdora solar farm, 15 MW, commissioned in 2017
Newcastle Council5 MW Summerhill solar farm on capped landfill site, currently being constructed
City of Fremantle4.9 MW solar farm on former South Fremantle landfill site, currently going through Development Application process
ACTAs 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.


Local governments purchasing renewable energy

We are introducing a new category in this blog post, which is the purchasing of renewable energy from offsite projects. There are many ways how renewable energy can be procured, for example by purchasing GreenPower from a provider, purchasing LGCs in the spot market, or by entering into a corporate Power Purchase Agreement (PPA). In this section, we will focus on PPAs. Renewable energy purchasing via PPAs can be a cost-effective way to deliver on commitments to reduce carbon emissions, achieve zero net emissions, or meet renewable energy targets.

In 2016/17, it was mostly corporations like Telstra or Sun Metals that entered into Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) with project developers. However, recently, the Melbourne Renewable Energy Project marked the first time in Australia that a group of local governments (City of Melbourne, Moreland City Council, City of Yarra, City of Port Phillip), universities and corporations collectively purchased renewable energy from a newly built wind farm.

The recent RFP by the Southern Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (SSROC) is another example of where a buying group has gone out to market to procure offsite renewables. One of the prerequisites for a successful tendering process was to proceed if the achieved PPA price was cheaper than the grid.

Local government offtakerOffsite Power Purchase Agreement
Southern Sydney Regional Organisation of CouncilsBundled offtake agreement (electricity and LGCs)
Will only proceed if cheaper than grid
Melbourne Renewable Energy Project – buyers groupContract structure accommodates both bundles offtake agreements, as well as LGC-only


Feel free to use an excerpt of this blog on your own site, newsletter, blog, etc. Just send us a copy or link and include the following text at the end of the excerpt: “This content is reprinted from 100% Renewables Pty Ltd’s blog. You can also contact us for a copy of the commitment graphics – they are available as standalone JPGs for each government level.

Related Articles

Subscribe To Our
Net Zero Newsletter

Get monthly cutting edge energy, carbon and net-zero insights delivered to your inbox for free

Thousands of your peers are already reading it.

Just one more step...

Please enter your name & email to download for free