EnergyAustralia, one of Australia’s largest energy companies, has signed foundation contracts to buy 500 MW of solar PV and wind power purchase agreements (PPAs) worth an aggregated AUS$1.5 billion (US$1.12 billion)
According to EnergyAustralia’s MD Catherine Tanna, the contracts would underpin the company’s growing embrace of renewable energy, with the first tangible project a 13-year PPA with a 42.6 MW solar farm that will be built in Manildra, New South Wales.
Tanna is keenly aware of EnergyAustralia’s large carbon footprint, which amounts to the annual generation of 20 million tonnes of carbon dioxide through its operation of two of Australia’s biggest coal power stations.
"Owning big power plants comes with the responsibility of promoting and leading the development of cleaner forms of energy," said Tanna. "That’s why we’re committing to buy 500 MW of power from new solar and wind projects around the country, providing the support they need to get built.”
The MD spoke of EnergyAustralia’s desire to play its part in lowering carbon emissions, and added that the signing of these PPAs will usher in a cleaner energy supply for Australians as coal-fired power plants are retired. "Customers will be able to enjoy reliable, affordable and clean energy," she said.
U.S. solar company First Solar is developing the Manildra solar plant, which received funding support from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) as part of the government’s 23% by 2020 Renewable Energy Target (RET). Completion of the plant is scheduled for early 2018.
"Today’s announcement is representative of the widespread support for utility-scale solar as a competitive and bankable energy source in Australia," said Jack Curtis, First Solar’s regional manager for Asia Pacific. "ARENA’s ongoing support for high-quality project deployment has been instrumental in driving the commercial competitiveness of utility-scale solar in this country."
Thus far, EnergyAustralia has invested more than AUS$1 billion of capital in new renewable generation, and has a wind power portfolio of more than 450 MW across New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia.