70 Australian organisations make the switch to renewable energy

Image Credit: Pacific Hydro and City of Melbourne

Published 19 Nov 2019

By Business Renewables Centre Australia

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Seventy leading Australian organisations have made the switch to renewable energy in the past two years and procured nearly 2.3 GW of electricity – enough to power about 1.3 million homes* – according to a new report by the Business Renewables Centre Australia (BRC-A).

The BRC-A released its first State of the Market report for Corporate Renewable PPAs today ahead of this Friday’s Council of Australian Governments (COAG) energy meeting in Perth.

The report found a total of 58 renewable power purchase agreements (corporate PPAs) involving 70 organisations (including group purchases) had been negotiated by Australian energy buyers since 2017, with 70% of investment made with new solar and wind farms.

Over 40,000 MW of solar, wind and battery storage projects are also looking for a buyer, but government policy uncertainty is proving to be a barrier.

“Until recently, solar and wind farms needed a power purchase agreement with a retailer to get built, but the growth of corporate renewable PPAs has opened up a vital new source of investment in renewable energy,” said Christopher Briggs, Technical Director, BRC-A and Research Principal, UTS Institute for Sustainable Futures.

“The emergence of corporate PPAs is proving crucial in driving the energy transition in Australia and helping to realise the nation’s climate change targets.

“Across the Australian economy, manufacturers, farmers, councils, banks, universities and a range of other industries have negotiated corporate renewable PPAs to reduce their emissions, get more control over their energy bills and reduce price volatility.

“While large corporate buyers led the way in the early deals, there has also been a series of deals with smaller and mid-sized buyers – like schools, vineyards and even the Sydney Opera House,” said Mr Briggs.

Under a corporate PPA, electricity buyers agree to buy power from a renewable energy project (currently solar or wind farms) at a fixed price over a longer-term.

The BRC-A found many other organisations are investigating or negotiating corporate PPAs, estimating that just under 500MW of corporate PPA deals are already in the pipeline.

“Energy buyers would like to see stronger government policy to create more stability in the energy market, as this is a key barrier to the further growth of corporate PPAs,” said Monica Richter, WWF-Australia’s Senior Manager, Low Carbon Futures, and Project Director, BRC-A.

The release of the report also coincides with the first anniversary of the BRC-A, a not-for-profit initiative designed to connect buyers and sellers and help Australian organisations to navigate the renewable energy market.

“In just one year, we have grown to support over 240 member organisations, including about 80 buyers members, 90 developers, 60 professional service providers and 16 industry partners. This year we’ve held sold-out PPA training bootcamps in Sydney and Melbourne, and will deliver more training in 2020,” said Ms Richter.

BRC-A is a collaboration between the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Australia, Climate-KIC Australia and the Institute for Sustainable Futures at the University of Technology Sydney.

WWF-Australia’s CEO, Dermot O’Gorman said the BRC-A report confirms that Australia’s future lies in renewables.

“As a founder of the BRC-A, we are encouraged by the explosion of interest in renewable energy with more than 240 member organisations joining in the first year,” said Mr O’Gorman.

“Corporate buyers are putting their money where their mouth is and it’s time for our governments to step up and provide strong renewable energy policies to match the corporate interest.

“BRC-A has proven that Australian companies are going for long-term renewable energy contracts that reduce energy price exposure and support significant growth in renewable energy infrastructure. With this infrastructure growth, we believe that Australia can become a renewable energy powerhouse and a major exporter of renewable energy to the Asia Pacific region.”

***

About the Business Renewables Centre Australia

BRC-A is an independent, not-for-profit information hub and online marketplace platform designed to help larger Australian organisations navigate the renewable energy market.

Founded in 2018, BRC-A connects energy buyers and sellers, and helps organisations to learn about corporate PPAs through both online and face-to-face information resources, tools, templates, training and industry events.

BRC-A is a collaboration between WWF-Australia, Climate-KIC Australia and the University of Technology Sydney’s Institute for Sustainable Futures, and is supported by funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and the NSW and Victorian Governments. For more information visit: businessrenewables.org.au

* Using an average annual household electricity consumption of 4.6MWh (source: Australian Energy Market Commission, 2018 Retail Electricity Price Trends Review).

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