The owners of Australia’s largest privately owned shopping center have signed a new deal with CEP.Energy, under which the renewable energy fund will install, own and operate a rooftop solar array and microgrid at the Narellan Town Centre, a mall on the outskirts of Sydney.
The project will be developed in stages. Upon completion, it will include a 50,000-square-meter array of solar modules that will deliver 10 MW of capacity, supported by a 20 MWh battery storage system. And CEP.Energy CEO Peter Wright claimed that the 30-year lease agreement will provide mall tenants with a total renewable energy solution.
“Embedded renewable energy networks offer long-term benefits to landlords, tenants, investors and the community,” Wright said. “NTC’s retail customers can expect to save about 20% on their electricity bills.”
The move by Dart West Retail, the owners of the Narellan Town Centre, came just days after Australia’s largest shopping center, Vicinity Centres Fashion Capital in suburban Melbourne, said it would add a 1.6 MW solar system as part of a multimillion-dollar upgrade.
The Narellan Town Centre agreement is the latest addition to CEP.Energy’s secured property portfolio. Wright said CEP.Energy – which finances, builds, owns and operates renewable microgrids and virtual power plants in partnership with property portfolio groups – aims to have 1.5 GW of solar and 1 GW of energy storage to providing a steady flow of low-cost energy for commercial, retail and industrial tenants across the country within the next five years.
The tenants at Narellan Town Centre include supermarket giant Coles, which is under fire for lagging in the switch toward renewable energy. As the nation’s 12th-largest energy user, Coles is the only major Australian supermarket that yet to make the switch to 100% renewable electricity.
The grocery chain has already made significant steps toward the transition. But a new poll shows that nearly three-quarters of Australian shoppers want the supermarket chain to switch to 100% renewable electricity. The poll, conducted by UComms and commissioned by Greenpeace, found that 73.4% of respondents think Coles should follow the lead of Woolworths and Aldi.
Lindsay Soutar, director of REenergise – a Greenpeace campaign that urges big businesses to switch to 100% renewable energy – said the poll results were a clear message to Coles that it’s time to flick the switch on the energy transition.
“The message from Australian shoppers is loud and clear – they want Coles to commit to 100% renewable energy, like its supermarket rivals Woolworths and Aldi,” Soutar said. “Coles is already running 30% of its operations on renewable energy and it wouldn’t take long for them to take the lead in the supermarket race to renewables. This year we’ve seen some of Australia’s biggest businesses, from Bunnings to Telstra, commit to 100% renewable energy. It’s time for Coles to up their ambition in the retail renewables revolution, or risk being left behind.”
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