Under the initiative, 1,700 solar panels and 7,000 smart electricity meters will be installed in homes and businesses in several of the city’s suburbs in a drive to cut energy consumption.

The Australian government has pledged $15m to the project in Adelaide, with a further £38m of investment expected from industry and other organisations.

Residents and businesses in the solar city are expected to save $5m a year on electricity bills and reduce greenhouse emissions by 30,000 tonnes a year.

Launching the project on Saturday, environment minister Malcolm Turnbull said: “This installation of up to two megawatts of renewable power on homes and commercial buildings will double South Australia’s current solar capacity.

“These residents and businesses in northern Adelaide will be leading the way in embracing energy efficiency and solar power.”

Mr Turnbull said the installation of smart meters, which display real-time consumption costs to residents, will reduce energy use during periods of peak demand.

He added: “Energy audits will be offered to residents and businesses to help them understand how they can cut energy consumption around their homes or offices.

“This is a great opportunity to cut power bills, save energy and cut carbon emissions at home.

“These communities will ensure Australia’s future energy options are based on intelligent and sensible information.”

Four other cities – Townsville, Alice Springs, Blacktown and Central Victoria – are also set to become solar cities as part of the trial, which could be expanded to other areas if it proves successful.

A total of nearly 250,000 residents and businesses are expected to take part in the scheme across the five cities, installing a total of 3,400 solar panels, 15,000 smart meters and 4,100 solar hot water systems.

Kate Martin

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