ARENA backs corporate PPA platform aiming to drive 5 GW of Australian renewables

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From pv magazine Australia.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has announced it will give a financial shot in the arm to the nation’s first online marketplace to help businesses buy renewable energy.

On behalf of the Australian government, ARENA will provide AU$500,000 (US$357,000) in funding to Climate-KIC Australia, WWF-Australia and the UTS Institute for Sustainable Futures, to help finance the project.

That comes on top of funding from the New South Wales and Victorian governments, which have each provided $150,000.

The Business Renewables Center Australia will be a resource center and online marketplace designed to accelerate the purchase of renewable energy by Australian business. The $1.74 million project aims to make it easier for corporates and local councils to procure renewable energy through corporate PPAs, with the aim of selling 5 GW of renewable power by 2030.

The center is modeled on the Rocky Mountain Institute’s Business Renewables Centre in the U.S. It will provide members with information, a network of energy buyers and project developers, inexpensive training and advice on PPA requirements.

A solar learning process for Australian business

“The future for energy is a large number of smaller renewable generating facilities, often developed by non-generating entities,“ said ARENA chief executive Darren Miller. “The Business Renewables Center will help in that transition, in using its vast expertise in running programs, entrepreneurship, innovation, education and other sustainability objectives, to make it easier for companies and councils to enter into the renewables market.”

Corporate PPAs in Australia have been on the rise as an alternative to utility scale projects under development that may encounter difficulties signing long-term offtake agreements with a utility. However the entire market segment is still in its nascent stage.

“There’s a lot of interest in renewable energy PPAs but they’re new to Australia and the key decision-makers often lack the information they need,” said Professor Stuart White, Director of the UTS Institute for Sustainable Futures. “We will be applying a model that’s been successful in the US to give companies the tools and resources they need to make the shift to renewable energy.”

Consumers back businesses which go green

Last year, ARENA released a report on the Business of Renewables, which outlined how Australia’s biggest businesses were falling behind global peers in the transition to renewable energy.

The report found Australian consumers support businesses making the switch, with more than three-quarters of those surveyed saying they would buy a product or service powered by renewables ahead of one that wasn’t.

According to WWF Australia CEO Dermot O’Gorman, the Business Renewables Center Australia will build on the success of WWF’s Renewable Energy Buyers Forum – which now amounts to 230 member organizations – as well as the growth in corporate renewable PPAs in the last 12 months.

“The future of renewables in Australia looks positive because it makes sound business sense. Contracting for long-term renewable energy will save customers money and will support growth in renewable energy infrastructure across Australia,” he said.