(Image courtesy of Sharp)The City of Sydney plans to build more renewable energy projects for the City's properties as an alternative to purchasing GreenPower carbon offsets.

The proposal will be considered by Council tonight (May 31) and recommends reinvesting the $2 million a year spent on GreenPower into renewable energy systems for its own buildings and operations.

Future solar projects under consideration include a glass and solar panel shade canopy in front of Customs House at Circular Quay and solar panel roofs on other council buildings such as depots, aquatic centres and other community facilities.

"Rather than just offsetting our electricity emissions, this strategy invests the money we would have spent on carbon offsets into building renewable energy projects for the city," Clover Moore says, Lord Mayor.

The City purchased green power carbon offsets in the past as an interim measure to developing its own low and zero carbon energy programs.

"Now these projects are underway, investing this money in renewable energy for our own buildings will accelerate emission reductions while maintaining our carbon neutral status," Moore says.

The council will also be retiring its Renewable Energy Certificates to increase Australia's renewable energy capacity and go beyond the Federal Government's 20 per cent renewable energy target.

The program will supply the City with low carbon energy through localised trigeneration plants. Over time this will replace its reliance on coal-fired grid electricity.

The strategy is part of its aim to reduce its emissions by 20 per cent by 2012 through a combination of energy efficiency programs, building energy efficiency retrofits, installation of LED lighting and trigeneration.

In January this year the City installed 240 solar panels on the heritage-listed Sydney Town Hall, providing a 48 kilowatt peak electricity output. Another 14 sites across the City, including community sports centres, depots and child care centres, have been fitted with either solar electric or solar hot water systems. This initiative has reduced the City's CO2 emissions and resulted in annual electricity cost savings of $30,000.

The reallocation of these funds into renewable energy could provide enough electricity to power up to 75 homes and save the City around $90,000 annually on its energy bills.

Other initiatives will emerge from a comprehensive renewable energy masterplan the City has commissioned from consultants Arup. This plan will examine renewable energy resources, including solar, tidal, wave, wind and renewable gases from municipal and agricultural waste that can be implemented both within and outside the City's Local Government Area.