Australia missing from list of renewable energy cities

A list of cities getting at least 70% of their electricity from renewable sources has more than doubled to over 100 since 2015, according to global carbon disclosure organisation, CDP.

The list includes large cities such as Auckland (New Zealand); Nairobi (Kenya); Oslo (Norway); Seattle (USA) and Vancouver (Canada), but no Australian cities appear on the list.

The CDP report coincides with an announcement by the UK100 network of local government leaders that over 80 UK towns and cities have committed to 100% clean energy by 2050, including Manchester, Birmingham, Newcastle, Glasgow and 16 London boroughs.

According to the World Economic Forum, unsubsidized renewables were the cheapest source of electricity in 30 countries in 2017, with renewables predicted to be consistently more cost effective than fossil fuels globally by 2020.

The new CDP data has been released ahead of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) conference in Edmonton, Canada on 5th March, when city government and science leaders will meet on the role of cities in tackling climate change.

Cities named by CDP as already powered by 100% renewable electricity include:

  • Burlington, USA: Vermont’s largest city now obtains 100% of its electricity from wind, solar, hydro, and biomass. The city has its own utility and citywide grid. In September 2014 the local community approved the city's purchase of its ‘Winooski One’ Hydroelectric Facility.

  • Reykjavik, Iceland: sources all electricity from hydropower and geothermal, and is now working to make all cars and public transit fossil-free by 2040. Iceland has almost entirely transitioned to clean energy for power and household heating.

  • Basel, Switzerland: is 100% renewable powered by its own energy supply company. Most electricity comes from hydropower and 10% from wind. Advocating clear political vision and will, in May 2017 Switzerland voted to phase out nuclear power in favour of renewable energy.

CDP’s 2017 data highlights how cities are stepping up action on climate change with a sharp rise in environmental reporting, emissions reduction targets and climate action plans since 2015, following the Paris Agreement to limit global warming to below 2 degrees.

In the United States, 58 cities and towns have now committed to transition to 100% clean, renewable energy, including big cities like Atlanta (Georgia) and San Diego (California). In February, U.S. municipalities Denton (Texas) and St. Louis Park (Minnesota), became the latest communities to establish 100% renewable energy targets.

Much of the drive behind city climate action and reporting comes from the 7,000+ mayors signed up to The Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy who have pledged to act on climate change.

Showing a diverse mix of energy sources, 275 cities are now reporting the use of hydropower, with 189 generating electricity from wind and 184 using solar photovoltaics. An additional 164 use biomass and 65 geothermal.

CDP reports that cities are currently instigating renewable energy developments valued at US$2.3 billion, across nearly 150 projects. This forms part of a wider shift by cities to develop 1,000 clean infrastructure projects, such as electric transport and energy efficiency, worth over US$52 billion.

Information about cities generating electricity from renewables is available here.

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