Financing alternative energy projects: An examination of challenges and opportunities for local government

Grace Cheung, Peter J. Davies*, Stefan Trück

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Local government in Australia has a strong collective capacity to reduce GHG emissions through policies, funding allocation to renewable energy projects and the delivery of programs and services. This study examines the institutional capacity of councils in Sydney and how this impacts on decisions to invest in alternative energy projects. We find greenhouse gas emission targets of councils are strongly aligned to national targets but do not reflect the local council's institutional capacity, political leadership or strategic priorities. Energy reduction projects are often identified and undertaken by environmental staff without support from financial staff or financial-evaluation tools. An absence of national guidelines to provide consistency in tracking and reporting limits cross-sector benchmarking. Street lighting contributes to a significant proportion of council's total electricity expenditure and GHG emission profile. Being highly regulated, existing contracts and the current practice of street lighting services limits the councils’ ability to reduce emissions. Based on our analysis we recommend a number of measures to overcome these constraints including the use of financial evaluation tools for small-scale renewable energy projects, a standardised national tracking and reporting platform to facilitate progress-reporting and meaningful comparative analysis between councils and policy reform to the regulation of street lighting.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)354-364
Number of pages11
JournalEnergy Policy
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2016


  • Renewable energy
  • Local government
  • Investment decision
  • Climate mitigation policy


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