A major new report reveals Sydney is not on track to meet its net zero obligations, but five key moves including widespread uptake of EVs and electrifying homes can get us there.
Led by urban policy think tank Committee for Sydney, the intensive project matched modelling and research with the operational scale of major energy distributors and building managers to:
- Comprehensively review Sydney’s current emissions by sector and geography, net zero aspiration and the size of the shortfall
- Identify the full set of potential decarbonisation levers for transport and building sectors – Sydney’s two biggest emitters – with analysis of potential scale and cost
- Model future emissions under current policy settings (Steady Transition), and an ambitious program to reach 2030 and 2050 targets (Accelerated Net Zero Transition)
- Conduct deep consumer research to understand the barriers and paths to widespread household and business adoption of new technologies
- Test findings and recommendations through peer review by utilities, local governments, state agencies, business and others.
Partners include Ausgrid, Dexus, Endeavour Energy, NSW Department of Planning and Environment, and the Greater Cities Commission, with research from McKinsey and Company informing the work.
Sam Kernaghan, Resilience Program Director at the Committee for Sydney: “We have the technology, we have clear targets – what this report provides is a plan to decarbonise Sydney.
“To halve emissions by 2030, the only levers big enough to make a real difference are getting many more electric vehicles on the road, and reducing the carbon intensity of the energy we use.
“Both come with big social, logistical and political challenges, but the reduced energy bills that come with electrifying transport and buildings will be worth it.
“Many Australians are deeply concerned about rising costs of living at the moment – this research shows by 2030 household energy costs are modelled to fall significantly with electrification of cars and homes.”
Rob Amphlett Lewis, Chief Customer Officer at Ausgrid: “We know the grid will play a critical role in the decarbonisation of the economy. At Ausgrid, we are committed to enabling a resilient and affordable net zero future for our customers, while accelerating the electrification of Sydney.
“We know, what we do today will have a huge impact on our tomorrow, and it’s imperative as an industry we work together with customers and governments to get it right.
“Our community battery trial and dynamic pricing trials are just some of the examples of targeted investment Ausgrid is making into innovations and technologies that provide choice for customers, help reduce costs, and prepare the grid for the energy transition.”
Guy Chalkley, Chief Executive Officer at Endeavour Energy: “Endeavour Energy sits at the heart of unprecedented growth in Greater Western Sydney, with some of the highest rates of solar penetration in the world.
“Already nearly one in four customers have a home solar system, with more than 20,000 new systems connected each year. By 2027 we are forecasting over 65,000 electric vehicles in our network, with 1.3 million by 2040. The current number of 12,000 home batteries is expected to increase more than tenfold to over 140,000 by 2030. In parallel, businesses are driving a rapid take up of industrial solar as they look to cut costs, transition to renewables, and meet sustainability targets.
“Our customers are telling us that they want to take control of their energy to suit their individual circumstances and want us to ensure the grid is ready for this transformational change. We must take stock of the short-term volatility in the economy and cost of living pressures whilst now taking the opportunity to reposition the electricity system to achieve balanced long term customer outcomes. Through leadership, collaboration and regulation we can make sure all customers reap the benefits of renewable energy and electrification in an empowered and least cost way as we work towards net zero,” he concluded.
Rob Sims, General Manager Group Sustainability at Dexus: “We are sourcing 100% renewable electricity across all the properties that we manage, and this has helped us to achieve net zero emissions.
“The shift to low-carbon buildings and transport can be further accelerated through a collaborative approach between government, business and the community working on practical solutions.
“Initiatives including electrifying our buildings, upgrading to more efficient air conditioning systems, introducing EV charging stations and installing solar panels will support our collective goal to reduce carbon emissions.”
Sam Kernaghan, Committee for Sydney: “NSW’s climate policies are leading the nation, but this research is a wakeup call that Sydney’s not on track for net zero – we’ve got plenty of work to do.”
“It’s up to industry and government at all levels to collaborate and lead by example, using their purchasing power to speed up the transition, and introduce the regulatory reform, incentives and policy moves to make the transition as easy for consumers as possible.”
Notes for editors:
Read the full report: Decarbonising Sydney
Household savings: The modelling suggests that by 2050, on average, solar panels could save households ~$1000 per year in energy bills, an EV could save up to ~$1,250 per year in fuel costs, a home battery could reduce those bills by a further ~$850 per year, and converting gas appliances to electric could save another ~$150 per year (Chart 8 in the report).
Five key moves to put Sydney on track for net zero:
- Electrify Sydney’s road transport with 40% sustainable transport by 2030; fuel emissions standards for cars and trucks; and a date to shift all car sales to electric, and all truck sales to battery or hydrogen
- More sustainable buildings with electric space heating, water heating and cooking, gas phased out in new buildings, and residential energy performance disclosure
- Increase distributed energy with incentives for rooftop solar, battery storage and smart meters, and better access for low-income groups, renters and others
- Prepare the energy grid with innovative tariffs and demand management measures to reward customer behaviour, and vehicle to grid technology
- Work collaboratively across Greater Sydney to track and manage progress to emissions goals, and accelerate coal closures to make up the deficit if needed.
Note, this report considers further actions to prepare Sydney for a decarbonised economy, building on the expected successful delivery of emissions reductions in the NSW Electricity Infrastructure Roadmap.
The Committee for Sydney is the peak advocacy and urban policy think tank for Greater Sydney. We are advocates for the whole of Sydney, developing pragmatic and innovative solutions to the most important problems we face. We are funded by a group of Sydney’s leading corporations, government departments and cultural institutions. Our goal is to make Sydney the best city in the world.