ASX-listed packaging giant Orora has become the latest major industrial group in Australia to shift its operations to “baseload” renewable energy, this week signing its second power purchase agreement, in this case for electricity generated by the Lal Lal wind farm, being built in Victoria.
As we reported on Monday, Macquarie Capital has closed project financing for the 228MW wind farm and, for its output, secured both a PPA with Orora, as well as what it calls an Australian-first “proxy revenue swap” (more on that later).
The 10-year offtake agreement with Lal Lal will mean that Orora sources a massive 80 per cent of its Australian energy needs from wind energy, once that project is completed in 2019. The company already powers 100 per cent of its South Australian operations via a contract with a 57MW wind farm, Clements Gap (pictured above).
In an emailed statement to RenewEconomy on Tuesday, Orora managing director Nigel Garrard said the company believed that the Victorian PPA was one of the first base load renewable deals in Australia.
“Energy price certainty and continuity of supply is a critical consideration for an energy intensive business like Orora. From our perspective, renewable energy represents a competitively priced and sustainable energy source that will safeguard supply for our Australian operations.
“As a result of the Lal Lal wind farm agreement and our earlier agreement with the Clements Gap wind farm in South Australia, 80 per cent of Orora’s electricity requirements in Australia will now come from renewable sources. This is an increasingly important consideration for Orora, our customers, employees and shareholders,” Garrard said.
The PPA is just the latest in a spate of major corporate deals that have connected big industrial energy users like Sun Metals, the Laverton steel works, Telstra and miners and manufacturing groups in South Australia to wind and solar.
Some, like CUB, Mars Australia, and the University of Queensland, are going the whole hog and sourcing 100 per cent of their demand with renewables – often at stunningly low prices.
For Orora – which spun out of Amcor in 2013 – the shift to clean energy kicked off in February, when the company signed an agreement with renewables developer Pacific Hydro, to see all of its South Australia energy requirements met, 24/7, by the 57MW Clements Gap Wind Farm.
This includes the company’s energy intensive glass bottle operation in Gawler, in the state’s south east, for which an unreliable energy supply can be potentially crippling to the manufacturing process.
At the time of the Pac Hydro deal, Garrard said renewables offered a competitively priced sustainable energy source for the business, whose energy bill had doubled over the past four years as both gas and electricity prices soared.
“Orora operates energy intensive businesses and is continuing to actively investigate a range of options to manage higher energy prices and safeguard supply for the Australian operations,” Garrard said in a company statement in February.
“Renewable energy represents a competitively priced and sustainable energy source and this agreement provides Orora’s SA operations with greater energy price certainty over the long-term.”
According to Macquarie – which, as of yesterday, retains a 20 per cent share in Lal Lal, after selling 40 per cent stakes to Northleaf Capital Partners and InfraRed Capital Partners – this latest PPA has allowed Orora to “lock in the cost of attaining baseload green energy.”
The deal also combines the PPA with a Proxy Revenue Swap (PRS), to help offset any production volume, timing of energy generation and future energy price risks – a first for the Australian renewables sector, Macquarie said.
“Our extensive experience in the renewable energy sector globally is enabling us to bring innovative transaction structures and financing solutions to the Australian market,” said Ivan Varughese, Macquarie Capital’s head of infrastructure, utilities and renewables, A/NZ.
“It’s positive to see innovative companies such as Orora adopting new solutions like this to access renewable energy.”