Downtown Sydney is Now Powered By 100% Renewable Energy Thanks to Historic Deal

In the middle of Australia’s largest city the downtown business borough is now officially powered by 100% green energy thanks to the “largest standalone renewables agreement for an Australian council to date.”

The City of Sydney, which is home to a quarter-million people, has begun sourcing all of its energy from two solar farms and the largest wind farm in all of New South Wales.

The transition was facilitated through a power purchase agreement (PPA) with electricity retailer Flow Power. Although the historic deal costs AU$60 million, the initiative is expected to save AU$500,000 every year, according to Euronews.

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The initiative is also expected to purge roughly 20,000 tons of CO2 from the city’s carbon footprint—roughly 70% of its total output—before 2024, which is several years earlier than its original goal.

“Cities are responsible for 70% of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide, so it is critical that we take effective and evidence-based climate actions,” said Sydney Mayor Clover Moore.

“The City of Sydney became carbon neutral in 2007, and were the first government in Australia to be certified carbon neutral in 2011,” she added. “This ground-breaking $60 million renewable electricity deal will also save our ratepayers money and support regional jobs in wind and solar farms in Glen Innes, Wagga Wagga, and the Shoalhaven.”

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Exciting New Data Says Renewables Accounted for Almost Three Quarters of New Energy Capacity in 2019

In an exciting reported victory for sustainability, new renewable power accounted for a whopping 72% of all global power expansion in 2019.

According to new data released last week by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the renewable energy sector added 176 gigawatts (GW) of generating capacity globally in 2019, although this was notably lower than the (revised) 179 GW added in 2018.

However, IRENA’s annual Renewable Capacity Statistics 2020 shows that renewables expanded by 7.6% last year with Asia dominating growth and accounting for 54% of total additions. While expansion of renewables slowed last year, total renewable power growth outpaced fossil fuel growth by a factor of 2.6, continuing the dominance of renewables in power expansion first established in 2012. Solar and wind contributed 90% of total renewable capacity added in 2019.

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“Renewable energy is a cost-effective source of new power that insulates power markets and consumers from volatility, supports economic stability and stimulates sustainable growth,” said IRENA Director-General Francesco La Camera. “With renewable additions providing the majority of new capacity last year, it is clear that many countries and regions recognize the degree to which the energy transition can deliver positive outcomes.

“While the trajectory is positive, more is required to put global energy on a path with sustainable development and climate mitigation—both of which offer significant economic benefits,” continued Mr. La Camera. “At this challenging time, we are reminded of the importance of building resilience into our economies. In what must be the decade of action, enabling policies are needed to increase investments and accelerate renewables adoption.”

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Renewables accounted for at least 70% of total capacity expansion in almost all regions in 2019, other than in Africa and the Middle East, where they represented 52% and 26% of net additions respectively.

The additions took the renewable share of all global power capacity to 34.7%, up from 33.3% at the end of 2018. Non-renewable capacity expansion globally followed long-term trends in 2019, with net growth in Asia, the Middle East and Africa, and net decommissioning in Europe and North America.

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Solar added 98 GW in 2019, 60% of which was in Asia. Wind energy expanded by close to 60 GW led by growth in China (26 GW) and the United States (9 GW). The two technologies now generate 623 GW and 586 GW respectively—close to half of global renewable capacity. Hydropower, bioenergy, geothermal and marine energy displayed modest year on year expansion of 12 GW, 6 GW, 700 MW, and 500 MW respectively.

Asia was responsible for over half of new installations despite expanding at a slightly slower pace than in 2018. Growth in Europe and North America increased year on year. Africa added 2 GW of renewable capacity in 2019, half of the 4 GW it installed in 2018.

Want to learn more? Read the “Highlights of the key findings” or the full IRENA report.

Reprinted from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA)

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Wind Farms in Africa Aim To Power New Era of Clean Reliable Energy While Saving a Billion Tons of CO2

Senegal is preparing to take a large step in the emerging market of African renewable energy with the construction of the 340 million euro Taliba N’diaye Wind Farm.

Almost all of the 46 wind turbines planned for the site have been completed, with the first trickle of totally renewable energy finally flowing into the capital city of Dakar.

“The first megawatts of energy are today entering Senegal’s grid, giving the country its first taste of clean, renewable wind power,” said Massaer Cisse, General Manager for Senegal at Lekela Power, the farm’s manager.

“This is an exciting time and it brings us a step closer to our ultimate goal of providing power for millions of Senegalese”.

Located 100 kilometers (60 miles) north of Dakar, the turbines and substations erected so far are already generating 50 megawatts of the proposed total of 158 to be added to the grid when Taliba N’Diaye is finished.

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This will serve to increase the power supply of Senegal by 15% as well as save 300,000 tons of carbon from entering the atmosphere annually.

Africa Happenings reports that the lack of reliable access to electricity is a major contributor to unemployment and low manufacturing output, as power shortages often stall heavy machinery, making investments into capital goods such as electric forklifts or other construction equipment risky.

They estimate that 500 million Africans don’t have reliable access to electricity. For instance, Nigeria, another West African country, could be losing as much as 5% GDP per year due to power shortages. People resort to portable backup generators, which often run on dirty diesel fuel, contributing mightily to falling air quality due to the fumes.

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Bird Friendly Wind Energy Comes to Egypt

With recent successes in Senegal, Lekela Power has also recently secured financial investments worth $325 million for its 250 megawatt West Bakr Wind project in Egypt. Expected to be fully operational by 2021, West Bakr will produce over 1,000 gigawatts per hour, per year, of clean energy for the Egyptian grid.

Egypt’s ‘Build, Own, Operate’ plan is an ambitious project aimed at establishing an Egyptian-managed energy infrastructure that will be made up of 20% renewables by 2022.

The Suez Gulf is a high-traffic area for migrating birds, sometimes at risk from the windmill blades. Lekela and Egyptian Electricity Transmission Company have planned the West Bakr project to be more bird-friendly through the development of a “shut down on demand” program.

Lekela has partnered with the Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency and its Migratory Soaring Birds project to help fund and eventually implement a Migratory Birds Monitoring training program that will help ensure birds survive the journey around their wind farms.

West Bakr near the Gulf of Suez Canal is far larger than Taliba N’diaye, and its massive energy output is expected to offset more than 550,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually.

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