The race to 100 per cent renewable town is on

Communities around the world are leading the way in the transition from polluting fossil fuels to clean renewables. Suburbs, small towns and, increasingly, entire cities are driving the change to an exciting future for 100 per cent renewable energy.

Towns like Newstead, Uralla, Lismore, Byron Bay and Coffs Harbour and countless others across the country are developing and implementing 100 per  cent renewable policies. For example, Totally Renewable Yackandandah (TRY) formed at the beginning of 2014 as a result of a community energy forum organised by the local council. TRY has brought together locals who are passionate about the notion of powering their town entirely with renewables and aims to be energy self-sufficient by 2022.

While each community has unique challenges, they all share a common approach of engaging the local community and representing a broad range of motivations.

Georgetown in Texas is a fiercely conservative city of 55,000 and is close to achieving its target of 100 per cent renewable energy in 2017. Economic and regulatory factors, rather than climate change motivations, forced the hand of town planners and the local energy utility to abandon costly and unpredictable coal and gas in favour of wind and solar. Another prime example of the 100 per cent renewable model is Samso, Denmark. It’s the world’s first clean energy powered island and arguably the poster child for the movement worldwide.

Chief architect of Samso’s strategy, Soren Hermansen is in Australia for the Community Energy Congress to teach our movement how to build energy projects while sharing the benefits broadly and fairly. Hermansen and other key international community energy experts will appear at the congress in Melbourne on February 27-28. 

Manny Pasqualini, director of Victorian Projects and Capacity Building at Community Power Agency.