Following a landmark 10-year Power Purchase Agreement between Coles Group supermarkets and global renewable power generation company Metka EGN Solar, three photovoltaic solar plants capable of generating enough electricity for 39,000 homes will be built in regional NSW.
In the first such agreement made by a major Australian retailer, Coles will purchase more than 70 per cent of the electricity generated by the plants to be built near Wagga Wagga, Corowa and Junee, the equivalent of 10 per cent of Coles’ national electricity usage.
The plants will supply the national grid with more than 220GWh hours of electricity. Producing the same amount of power from fossil fuels would result in more than 180,000t of greenhouse gas emissions every year, the equivalent of 83,000 cars.
Coles CEO Steven Cain says increased use of renewable energy is a major part of the company’s commitment to be the most sustainable supermarket in Australia.
“Coles has been a cornerstone of Australian retail for more than 100 years, and ensuring the sustainability of our business is essential to success in our second century,” he says. “We are thrilled that with this agreement, Coles can make a significant contribution to the growth of renewable energy supply in Australia, as well as to the communities we serve.
“We have already made changes throughout our business to use energy more efficiently, which has enabled us to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 4 per cent over the past financial year and more than 30 per cent since 2009, despite growing our store network.
“Over the past two financial years alone we have invested more than $40 million in energy efficiency measures including upgrading all store lighting to LED by the end of 2019 and the installation of solar panels on 30 stores.”
Coles Chief Property and Export Officer Thinus Keeve says Coles is the first major Australian retailer to commit to buying renewable energy through a PPA.
“Agreements like this are crucial to growing renewable generation capacity in Australia because they give the developers the certainty they need to invest,” he says.
As well as supporting large-scale generation projects, Coles is working with property partners to increase on-site generation of renewable power at 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,” Keeve says.
The three solar plant projects were developed by Australian renewable energy developer Terrain Solar with the support of advisory firm PwC, as part of a portfolio of renewable generation plants. Metka acquired the portfolio earlier this year and will build, own and operate the plants.
“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,” Terrain Chairman David Griffin says.
The new plants are expected to support more than 250 jobs in regional NSW, including over 240 during construction and 10 ongoing roles. Construction is scheduled to begin in September and the plants are expected to commence supplying power to the grid in July next year.