Australian supermarket chain Coles will soon source nearly all of the electricity for its Queensland stores from locally generated solar and wind, after sealing a deal with state government-owned generator and retailer CleanCo.
Queensland energy minister Anthony Lynham said on Tuesday that CleanCo had signed a 10-year contract with Coles to power more than 90 per cent of its Queensland sites from July 2022 with renewable energy.
The agreement will see Coles buy 400GWh of electricity a year from Neoen’s Western Downs Green Power Hub, set to be Australia’s largest solar farm once built, and Acciona’s MacIntyre Wind Farm, one of the largest wind farms to be built in the southern hemisphere.
CleanCo, which also manages a portfolio of more than 1,100MW of government-owned hydroelectricity and gas plants, last year got a $250 million budget allocation boost to kick start investments in new renewable energy projects.
In March, the gen-tailer revealed plans to build a 100MW wind farm at the 1.026GW MacIntyre project near Warwick and contract another 400MW of capacity from project owner Acciona, paving the way for the entire project to be built by 2024, and first power generation in mid-2022.
And in May, CleanCo inked a deal with Neoen to buy 320MW of the output of the Western Downs Green Power Hub, paving the way for construction on that project – which will be 400MW all up – to begin in July.
For Coles, the new deal follows the company’s 2019 committment to buy renewable energy through a 10-year Power Purchase Agreement with global renewables outfit Metka EGN, purchasing more than 70% of the electricity generated by three solar power plants in regional NSW.
Coles said in its own statement that energy generated by the two Queensland projects alone would supply three-quarters of its Queensland electricity requirements, with the remainder supported by CleanCo’s low emissions portfolio.
Coles Group has also made changes throughout its business to use energy more efficiently, through which it has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 36.5% since 2009.
“Long-term agreements like this are a great example of how we are able to reduce our energy costs, support the community and make a meaningful impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” added Coles chief sustainability, property and export officer Thinus Keeve.
“The CleanCo and Metka EGN agreements are great examples of how we can grow renewable energy generation capacity in Australia because they give the developers the certainty they need to invest and we look forward to growing our partnerships with renewable energy providers in the future.”
CleanCo CEO Dr Maia Schweizer said that providing competitively-priced clean energy to Coles allowed CleanCo to create growth and jobs in south-west Queensland associated with its 2025 goal of 1000MW of new renewable generation.
“We are proud to partner with Coles and provide renewables-backed power for its Queensland sites under one contract,” Schweizer said.
Queensland energy minister Lynham said the deal was part of the government’s economic plan for post-COVID recovery. Just this month, the Labor Palaszczuk government launched a new $500 million Renewable Energy Fund to allow state-owned energy corporations to increase public ownership of both commercial renewable projects and supporting infrastructure.
“Affordable reliable energy is critical to business and industry, and their capacity to create jobs,” the minister said. “That’s why the government is investing in initiatives like our $500 million renewable energy fund.
“Under this agreement, wind and solar energy generated on Queensland’s Southern Downs and Western Downs will be powering Coles supermarkets and other retail outlets right across the Sunshine State,” he said.