Global consumer goods manufacturer Unilever could be the next major corporation in Australia to commit to a long-term solar or wind power purchase agreement, after confirming plans to make its operations here 100 per cent renewable by 2020.
In an update to its Sustainable Living Plan, unveiled in Sydney on Thursday, Unilever said it was on track to meet key commitments in Australia, including sourcing 100 per cent of all grid electricity used in manufacturing from renewable sources by 2020.
“The company is committed to sourcing 100 per cent of total energy across its operations from renewables by 2030, and to sourcing all grid purchased electricity from renewables by 2020,” Unilever said in a statement.
“We have started this journey in Australia and New Zealand and have developed a renewable energy strategy outlining our roadmap for meeting this ambition.”
In Australia, this will mean meeting the energy demand of the company’s four plants – two in Sydney, one in Victoria, and one in Toowoomba, Queensland – most likely with wind or solar power.
Unilever could do this by building its own assets, such as solar or wind farms, but given the target is just 18 months away, it seems more likely the company will sign power purchase agreements with renewable energy projects already built, or in the development pipeline.
One Step has asked Unilever for more details of its Australian renewable energy plans, but had not heard back yet at the time of publication.
PPAs are rapidly becoming the go-to renewable energy solution for major corporations, both globally and in Australia, as companies work to cut production costs and meet sustainability targets.
Last month, Mars Australia announced it had signed a 20 year PPA with Total Eren to produce the equivalent of all its electricity needs from the Kiamal solar farm which is being built near Ouyen in western Victoria.
Unilever has made good progress on renewables abroad, with 109 manufacturing sites across 36 countries using 100 per cent renewable grid electricity at the end of 2017.
The Dutch-Anglo company – which owns brands including Dove, Lynx, Continental, Lipton and Streets – has also committed to making 100 per cent of its plastic packaging recyclable, reusable or compostable, by 2025, and increasing the recycled plastic content in its packaging to 25 per cent by that time.