Coles signs PPA for three solar farms in Australia

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Australian supermarket behemoth Coles has agreed to procure power from three utility-scale solar projects that Terrain Solar plans to build in the Australian state of New South Wales. The installations will be operated by Greek EPC Metka EGN.

Under a 10-year power purchase agreement, Coles will buy more than 70% of the 220 GWh of clean power that will be annually generated by the plants. The deal will cover 10% of the retailer’s national electricity usage.

Earlier this year, Metka EGN – a London-based EPC contractor that operates as a subsidiary of Greek industrial conglomerate Mytilineos Holdings S.A. – announced plans to enter the Australian solar market with the acquisition of a 260 MW solar portfolio. The portfolio includes six projects in New South Wales and Queensland, with each likely to be between 30 MW and 50 MW in size, once they are constructed. Without naming the developer, Metka EGN said that project development was at an advanced stage, with construction of 169 MW expected to begin by the end of 2019.

According to Coles, construction on the projects located outside the regional centers of Wagga Wagga, Corowa and Junee is scheduled to begin as soon as next month. The plants are expected to start supplying power to the grid by July 2020. “Terrain Solar is incredibly proud of this landmark agreement that will underpin the construction of three new renewable energy plants in regional New South Wales” said Terrain Solar Chairman David Griffin.

Renewable energy is a major part of the supermarket chain’s commitment to becoming the most sustainable groceries group in Australia.“With this agreement, Coles can make a significant contribution to the growth of the renewable energy supply in Australia, as well as to the communities we serve,” Coles Group CEO Steven Cain said.

Touted as the first major Australian retailer to commit to buying renewable energy through a PPA, Coles is also working with property partners to increase on-site renewable generation at its stores and distribution centres. “We plan to install solar panels on another 38 stores this financial year and we will be working with our landlords and property developers to identify further locations suitable for on-site solar power generation,” Coles Chief Property and Export Officer Thinus Keeve said.

Corporate PPAs

The Coles PPA announcement comes hot off the heels of Molycop Australia’s long-term offtake deal with electricity retailer Flow Power for 100,000 MWh of solar and wind power. This week’s deals join a growing pool of corporate PPAs in Australia, including the largest solar PPA to date, between steel giant Bluescope Steel and ESCO Pacific, for 88 MW. Other notable corporate PPAs have been recently signed by Simec Zen Energy, Australian brewer CUB, and the University of New South Wales, which is trying to become 100% powered by solar.

Innovative PPAs and services for C&I customers have emerged at pace with a number of flexible new solar PV contract models and services. One of the new corporate PPA vehicles is Australia’s first-ever marketplace to connect buyers and developers, the Business Renewables Centre of Australia, which launched an online members’ portal in March, with 7 GW of solar and wind on offer.

Saving on electricity bills is a key priority for Australian commercial and industrial energy customers. As shown by figures that Flow Power revealed in May, its high-use energy customers collectively saved AUD 15.4 million ($10.4 million) by sourcing electricity from 254 MW of committed projects in its 440 MW renewables portfolio.

Globally, corporate PPAs are tipped to smash last year’s record. Up to July of this year, PPAs were signed for 8.6 GW of clean energy, with the United States accounting for 69% of the deals, according to BloombergNEF’s H2 corporate energy market outlook report.