July 20 – Adelaide City Council & Solar City

The day began by learning about Adelaide’s City Council (ACC), which happens to be Australia’s first local government and was formed in 1840, initially as a corporation.  The head of the council is the Lord Mayor, currently Stephen Yarwood.

After breakfast, the group walked to Adelaide’s Town Hall and met with ACC’s Senior Sustainability Advisor, Marni Hope.  She discussed the sixth outcome of the council’s objectives, which is to establish a sustainable city.  The ACC has taken numerous strides to make Adelaide and South Australia more sustainable, and they also work closely with the state government to incorporate initiatives and action plans to ultimately allow the city to run at an optimum and desirable level, while being economically, environmentally, and socially feasible for the surrounding businesses and communities.

Mitsubishi I-MIEV

Lord Mayor's Electric Mitsubishi I-MIEV

Marni reviewed many plans that were approved by the Council recently to achieve the modeled sustainable city.  The Energy Management Action Plan was one of the outlined strategies that was remarkable to learn about.  The plan features a plan for the how the city can reduce its carbon footprint, which primarily comes from the local landfill, Central Market, and aquatic center. One idea was to work with the proposed carbon tax (emission trading) proposed by the federal government, but they have taken other actions such as building wind farms, closing the land fill, and retrofitting businesses and parking lots with energy efficient technology and insulation.  This plan also includes a solar power incentive for customers to install and sell power back to the grid at 44 cents per kilowatt-hour.  It was so successful that the council had to put the program on hold because it far exceeded their goal.  My fellow classmates and I noticed the number of houses featuring solar panels in the greater Adelaide area far exceeds the number of houses with solar panels in the lower peninsula of Michigan in the United States.

Solar Energy plays a large role in Adelaide

Following the presentation at the Town Hall, Marni led the group to the Central Market to meet with Peter Nattrass, a fellow Sustainability Advisor, to discuss energy efficiency within the market.  The Central Market is a staple to Adelaide because it provides the area with a variety of fresh food.  Although we spent the prior day exploring the market in order to prepare a group dinner, we were unaware that the lighting throughout the market is currently a burden on the city and market customers.  The current electrical consumption in the market is 3 million kilowatts per year and this could be drastically reduced if there was more efficient and less lighting in place (they use about 70% lighting than needed in some areas of the market).  New lighting would also reduce overheating of the complex from the current lamps and reduce cooling costs that are rising to counteract the overheating.

One of the most interesting services that Adelaide has to offer is the Tindo.  Tindo means “sun” to the Kaurna Aboriginals and is fitting because it is an entirely solar-powered bus that was added to the fleet of Adelaide’s Connector Buses.  In the first year alone, the bus has saved the city 14,000 liters of diesel, which is about 3,700 gallons.



  1. http://www.adelaidecitycouncil.com/council/history.html
  2. http://www.adelaidecitycouncil.com/environment/energy/tindo-solar-bus.html
  3. http://www.adelaidesolarcity.com.au/what-its-all-about.aspx
  4. http://www.touradelaide.com/
  5. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/City_of_Adelaide
  6. http://www.playford.sa.gov.au/webdata/resources

13 responses to “July 20 – Adelaide City Council & Solar City

  1. Did you happen to spot some solar mallee trees today and how about “bringing” one home?Would there be enough sun here for it to “survive”?

    • We saw a few solar street lights in the Business District of Adelaide, but I didn’t see any Solar Mallee Trees. The Solar Lights are very practical in Adelaide because of all the sun and they send power back to the grid that they aren’t using (up to 100kw of power annually). They probably would be practical in the US because they are greenhouse neutral and are very high efficiency. I’m pretty sure the lights they use are LED.

  2. Ellen Permoda

    Do solar panels ever wear out? Can they be recycled?

    • Solar panels will wear out but are have an life duration of about 40 years or so. However, all they do is convert the suns solar energy into storable energy inside of a battery. Solar panels are replaced over a period of time because more advanced and improved panels come out which are smaller and convert more solar energy into stored energy. i.e older panels were 60watts and fairly large, now panels can be half the size and produce 160watts.
      As far as I know, I am not sure how solar panels are recylced, most of the solar panels that were first implemented are still used, but newer more advanced panels are added to the solar array.

  3. Are there solar panels installed at the Central Market or any plans for such? If so, what size and how many kilowatts per year do they generate?

    • There were no solar panels installed at the Central Market and they didnt tell us of any future plans to do so. They did show us a feul cell that powered the lord mayors car. It was pretty cool.

  4. The solar powered bus is such s great idea! I look forward to when all cars and homes are solar powered. They probably are expensive to install but will save money in the long run.

    • The solar panels and buses are a great idea especially here in Australia because of the amount of sun they recieve. What I also liked about the bus is that they are free to the public. The panels are pretty expensive to install but they don’t have that bad of a payback period. I wish it was more logical to do in Michigan but we are one of the cloudiest states in the US.

    • To incorporate one tindo bus cost the council half a million dollars and they had to set up a 50 kilowatt solar grid to charge it, it is a great idea, but very hard to install over in the states

    • What they’re trying to push more in both the U.S. and here in Australia is to give more incentives for both businesses and home owners to get solar panels and to switch to only using solar energy. Any of the businesses or places we have talked to said that they certainly do pay back in the long run. Mallyon’s on the Murray organic and solar powered farm that we had visited bought into using solar energy even before there were any incentives being given and the owner (Nick) still says it was definitely worth it because of it.

  5. In response to carbined5, the problem of cost certainly arises when trying to outfit an entire urban area, even an area that is a more manageable size like Adelaide, with a new type of technology. Being here in Sydney for one full day, it is overwhelming to imagine changing the entirety of the city’s bus system. However, many people are working on just that, like the folks we spoke with today at Parsons Brinkerhoff. This company is responsible for many large-scale environmental design projects, such as the transport of carbon emissions and the outfitting of roads to accomodate cyclists as well as buses, cars, and pedestrians.

  6. Also to add to katimcardle, they are running into issues on room and where to put bus lanes and bike paths. They run into problems like buses sharing lanes with bikers and there isn’t enough room for both. In a few areas to fix that they put the bike paths around bus stops but when that happens pedestrians have little space to walk. It seems like the only way to fix it is to redue the entire city but we all know that isn’t possible. It deffinitely seemed like a hard job figuring out the best possible solution and making sure it doesn’t become a hazzard for everyone on the road.

  7. All that treeless, sun-baked space in Australia’s outback would sure make a great place for solar power farms.

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