Home improvement megastore Bunnings has become the latest major Australian retailer to pledge to source 100 per cent renewable electricity for all of its operations, setting the date for this goal at 2025 – halfway to its 2030 target of net-zero emissions.
The huge and popular hardware chain, which is owned by Wesfarmers, announced the commitment on Thursday, alongside plans to roll out 20 new solar rooftop solar systems and upgrade 10 of the existing 70 PV systems already installed across the company’s stores.
Bunnings said it had been installing solar systems across its retail network since 2014, which currently supplied an average of up to 30% of a store’s energy needs.
At the company’s Alice Springs outlet, battery storage has also been added to that store’s 475kW rooftop array (see image above), allowing that system to provide up to 80% of the store’s energy needs. So this could be an option for its other stores.
Where Bunnings will source the rest of the renewable energy required to meet all of its retail and operational energy needs was not specified in the statement on Thursday.
The retailer said it had worked to develop renewable energy solutions “over many years,” starting in 2009 with PV system at Bunnings Belconnen and wind turbines at Bunnings Port Kennedy and Bunnings Rockingham.
Beyond this, and the rooftop solar installations, the statement said only that “new pathways” were being developed to transition the chain entirely to renewable sources.
One Step Off The Grid contacted Bunnings to ask if this would include plans to enter into any renewable energy power purchase agreements with Australian solar and wind farms, but had not had a response in time for publication.
“We recognise that business has an important part to play in reducing carbon emissions and addressing climate change,” said Bunnings managing director, Mike Schneider.
“This is a journey we started some time ago, but we know that we have a long way to go.We are absolutely committed to finding solutions that benefit our business, our customers and the environment and we are excited about what the future looks like.”
The commitment was welcomed by Greenpeace Australia Pacific’s Reenergise Campaign, which noted that Bunnings ranked the equivalent of number 55 on the list of Australia’s largest electricity users in 2018-19.
“Bunnings is known for its lowest prices, but now lowering emissions is just the beginning,” said Reenergise Campaign director Lindsay Soutar.
“Committing to 100% renewable electricity and net zero emissions is a great win for the climate and for helping create local future-proof jobs in renewables.”
Wesfarmers managing director Rob Scott said at the time that the company’s commitment to climate action, and the expectations of its stakeholders, had continued to increase in 2020, notwithstanding the pressures of Covid-19.
“Wesfarmers has, for many years, managed its businesses with deep carbon awareness, and we take responsibility for improving the energy efficiency of our operations, transitioning to renewable power, investing in new technologies and working with our suppliers and customers to help them do the same,” Scott said.
“Today, we have announced clearer, more ambitious commitments, including net zero targets or aspirations for all our businesses.
“It is important to highlight that action to reduce emissions makes good commercial sense. We see the opportunities to operate our businesses more sustainably as being completely aligned with our objective of delivering a satisfactory return to shareholders.”