Sydney Opera House inks hybrid renewable PPA

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The Sydney Opera House will be predominantly powered by a blend of wind and solar, ensuring certainty of supply and pricing in the years ahead.

Based on a power purchase agreement (PPA) signed with commercial electricity retailer Flow Power, more than 85% of the Opera House’s yearly energy consumption of 16 GWh (equivalent to 2,500 households) will be matched with renewable energy supplies for the next seven years.

The Opera House is investing its annual A$2.4 million ($1.67 million) electricity spend to source power from major wind and solar projects in New South Wales. The installations include the 270 MW Sapphire Wind Farm in Glenn Innes and the 120 MW Bomen Solar Farm, which is under construction in Wagga Wagga.

“The Opera House is Australia’s first heritage-listed building to commit to this innovative energy retail model, joining a growing number of high-profile organizations leading the way towards a low carbon future through investment in large-scale renewable projects,” said Ian Cashen, the Sydney Opera House’s executive director of building. “This deal brings us another step closer to our long-term renewable energy goals and will deliver significant savings in operational costs over its seven-year period.”

Saving on electricity bills is one of the key drivers for Australian businesses with annual energy use of more than 100 MWh per year to negotiate renewable energy PPAs. Flow Power showed in March how its high-use energy customers have collectively saved A$14 million with PPAs since the start of 2018. Last month’s tally showed the figure updated to A$15.4 million of combined savings.

Corporate PPAs are on the rise in Australia, underscoring the growing need for flexible energy solutions. To meet demand, innovative PPAs and services for C&I customers have emerged in line with a number of new solar PV contract models and services, including Flow Power’s hybrid PPAs, which aim to leverage the best of wind and solar to deliver greater benefits.

Bomen and Sapphire

The Bomen Solar Farm is the first renewable energy asset in network owner Spark Infrastructure’s portfolio. It acquired the project from developer Renew Estate, which is partly owned by German developer Wirsol Energy. The installation is close to the Wagga North substation, where it will be connected to TransGrid’s transmission network. The project includes a 40 MWh battery storage component.

Melbourne-based Beon Energy Solutions, which is owned by Victoria Power Networks, is building the project (Spark Infrastructure holds a 49% stake in Victoria Power Networks). Total costs are expected to amount to approximately A$188 million, with commercial operations slated to commence in the second quarter of 2020.

The project will feature bifacial PV panels supplied by Jinko Solar, inverters from SMA and trackers from NEXTracker. It is expected to employ around 250 workers throughout the construction phase.

The Bomen project will generate electricity under a PPA with Flow Power. Under a deal announced in December, Flow Power agreed to contract 69 MW of the project’s total output to power Snack Brands and Australian Vintage, the latter of which was the first Australian wine producer to sign a large-scale hybrid renewable corporate PPA.

The second PPA for the Bomen site, which was announced on the same day the project was acquired, was signed with Westpac, as part of the bank’s commitment to a 100% renewables target. Westpac, the third major bank to sign up to the RE100 global initiative, will purchase more than a quarter of the output from the Bomen project under a 10-year contract, covering both the electricity and large-scale generation certificates.

The Sapphire Wind Farm, meanwhile, is one of the wind projects contracted by the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Government as part of its 100% renewable energy target. The ACT provided support for 100 MW of the project, which covers about 12% of its target. the project started exporting electricity to 48,000 homes in the ACT last May.

As the largest wind farm in New South Wales, the Sapphire site is also helping Commonwealth Bank of Australia move toward 100% renewable power by 2030 under a 12-year PPA, as of January. In addition, Sapphire became part of ambitious plans for a 470 MW renewable energy hub when Australian developer CWP Renewables secured planning approval last year. The massive hybrid wind-solar plant is set to feature a 200 MW solar+storage project.