Australia’s biggest solar farm to supply power to supermarket chain

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From pv magazine Australia

CleanCo has signed an agreement with Coles to supply its supermarkets in Queensland with power from Neoen’s recently completed 400 MW Western Downs Green Power Hub solar farm – the largest solar farm in Australia.

CleanCo and Coles signed a 10-year contract back in 2020 to power more than 90% of its Queensland sites from July 2022 with renewable energy. Later the same year, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced that the government had signed a deal with French renewable energy provider Neoen for CleanCo to buy 320 MW of the output of Neoen’s Western Downs Green Power Hub, which paved the way for construction on the project to begin.

The large-scale solar farm near the town of Chinchilla was completed in April of this year and gained a battery delivered by construction contractor UGL in July, featuring Tesla Megapack 2XL units. Neoen said at the time that the battery would give the farm greater capacity and enable a wider range of services and solutions.

With these different milestones and existing agreements, the agreement now announced by the Queensland government and CleanCo is presumably to secure the power now being generated by Neoen’s 400 MW Western Downs Green Power Hub solar farm for Coles stores.

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WThanks to the completion of the country’s largest solar farm and this landmark partnership, more than 95% of our electricity needs in Queensland are supplied by CleanCo,” said Coles Queensland State Manager Jo Brown.

Claims of supplying an entity’s energy needs with renewables usually only describe the energy demand in buildings  – without including the energy used for transport, such as for Coles delivery services, for example. This appears to be the case here, as the supermarket duopoly has only just started electrifying its delivery fleets.

As these are transitioned off fossil fuels, Coles’ electricity needs will increase as its carbon footprint decreases. Strictly speaking, bringing the company’s total energy consumption to 95% renewable energy use will only be achieved if these vehicles are supplied with renewable energy as well. The first fully electric delivery van was welcomed to the Coles Queensland fleet in August of this year.

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