While Australian governments are undermining the renewable-energy sector, there’s positive action from local not-for-profit groups and Byron Shire Council.
And to facilitate a unified plan of reducing fossil-fuel emissions, not-for-profit research and education organisation Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE) held a workshop with mayor Simon Richardson at Cavanbah (the Byron Regional Sport and Cultural Complex) on Sunday.
BZE CEO, Dr Stephen Bygrave, told The Echo the forum was aimed at creating plans which could reduce emissions across five sectors of the economy: energy, buildings, land use, transport and waste.
‘We are bringing council and all the community groups that are already doing the work under one umbrella, and are setting out a strategy on how we can achieve zero emissions.’
He says council’s intention to take Byron Shire to a zero-emissions economy over the next ten years creates an opportunity to lead, ‘and then others will follow.’
The group of around 50 also discussed ways of encouraging high-end energy users to become sustainable.
They include developers vying for new housing estates, energy providers and Rous Water, the local utility that provides several north coast councils with water.
Emerging micro-grid technology was also explained, whereby small networks of houses/businesses that are producing excessive solar power can feed into the grid to another network which may be experiencing extended cloudy weather conditions.
Siemens representative Warner Priest was also at the meeting, and told The Echo his company has a keen interest in micro-grid technology.
The next step, Dr Bygrave says, is to establish working groups for the five sectors.
‘We don’t want it to be overly bureaucratic – we want to provide enough structure and guidance so the community groups can get on with what they do best.’
‘We will develop a common action plan template for each group, and a baseline of emissions will be established from each group, from each sector.
‘After that, we’ll identity actions with emission reductions associated with each of those actions.’
Mayor Richardson was enthused by the chance of the five sectors becoming unified, which could lead to funding opportunities.
‘The emissions reduction fund, while aimed at the big players, could be applied for if all sectors of the community were behind it. There’s $1.5 billion in funding available.’