Uralla Shire, Australia’s first town to go zero emission

Uralla Shire, Australia’s first town to go zero emission. Photo credit: Alex Pawlow

A New South Wales country Shire is about to set record to become Australia’s first town to go zero emission, as the Australian populace are looking for mechanisms to limited community reliance on the electricity grid by establishing their own, locally-acquired, wind and solar energy farms.

The territory’s Environment Minister, Mark Speakman, will soon initiate the blueprint for Uralla, close to Armidale in the New England region, to become Australia’s first “zero net energy town”.

By changing energy-sapping lights and inefficient appliances, improving home insulation, installing roof-top solar across the shire, and improving firewood collection and land management, Uralla is on the verge of rising to 70% of the path to attaining zero emissions. A successful implementation of this initiative could save 6034 households $3 million annually.

The report also includes the incorporation of several longer-term plans, such as pumping renewable energy into the shire and constructing a mini, local wind farm. The report indicates that only two turbines are required to provide the electricity needs not satisfied by initial mechanisms to cut consumption as well as enhance solar power.

“Australia has been slow to develop community energy compared to countries like Germany – where almost half of the generation capacity is owned by communities or individuals – and Denmark, where small wind operatives are the norm.” Nicky Ison, the Founding Director of Community Power Agency, stated.”We came late to the party around community energy. Australia is lagging a long way behind other countries,” she said. “We have historically had very cheap coal.”

“But rising retail electricity prices and falling costs for solar and wind power were changing that”. Ms Ison stated.

Only 4-years ago, Australia had been managing just two community energy projects. By 2015, that had increased to 23, with over 70 more ventures operating.

“There’s an exponential growth,” Ms Ison said. “There are now proven models that groups can work with.”

Byron Bay, located on the north-coast of New South Wales, is also putting things in order to become an emission-free town and Yackandandah, situated in remote Victoria, is working towards achieving “energy sovereignty” by 2022.