Woolworths Group has made its first renewable power purchase agreement (PPA) with CWP Renewables, renewable energy systems developer, to inject 195,000 megawatt hours of green electricity into the NSW energy grid annually.
Woolworths and CWP Renewables’ 10-year agreement involves purchasing power generated by the new Bango wind farm outside Yass, supporting regional investment and jobs.
From January 2022, the PPA will cover around 30 per cent of Woolworths Group’s NSW energy needs with the electricity required to power 108 supermarkets, avoiding almost 158,000 tonnes of carbon emissions each year.
This is the equivalent to the yearly energy needs of 34,000 homes, or all the homes in the Blue Mountains Local Government Area. It also adds to the group’s existing network of rooftop solar panels at around 140 locations nationally.
As the Woolworths Group transitions to 100 per cent renewable electricity by 2025, on its path to becoming net carbon positive by 2050, it is prioritising investment in several initiatives. These include new developments like the Bango wind farm, which is currently under construction.
“We know the steps we take to become a more sustainable business today will help create a better tomorrow for generations to come,” Woolworths Group director of Format Rob McCartney said.
“Going beyond net carbon neutral, we’ve committed to take more carbon out of the atmosphere than we produce by 2050 and our first renewable power purchase is a key milestone in that pursuit.
“Supermarkets are particularly energy intensive to run and we want to use our scale for good by supporting the transition to renewable electricity,” McCartney said.
“To spur the growth of the industry, we’re prioritising renewable energy from new build projects like the Bango wind farm, which also demonstrates the potential of green energy to deliver investment and jobs to regional areas.”
The PPA will support more than 100 jobs in construction and operation of the Bango wind farm. The Bango project will pay annual rents to local landholders whose properties host wind turbines and CWP Renewables will establish a $14 million fund for community projects.
“Woolworths is not only buying renewable energy from Bango Wind Farm, they are also supporting regional NSW and reducing greenhouse gases emission,” CWP Renewables CEO Jason Willoughby said.
“With Woolworths’ decision, CWP Renewables is developing both stages of the approved Bango wind farm and will be generating renewable energy for Woolworths from the start of next year.”
More companies and businesses are enthusiastic about entering the renewable energy market in NSW, according to NSW energy minister Matt Kean.
“This is great news and further proof that the NSW electricity infrastructure roadmap is providing the certainty to businesses and energy market investors to make financial decisions that will help power our state into the future,” Kean said.
“I am fully supportive of all energy market investment in NSW, but this partnership and agreement is particularly significant because it is prioritising the building of new infrastructure, providing for local jobs and investment and helping us grow our renewable energy base.”
Woolworths Group accounts for around one per cent of Australia’s total energy use, representing a significant influx of green electricity to the national grid as it converts to renewable sources by 2025. The business will continue to explore opportunities to invest in power purchases from renewable projects directly.
It will also look to partner with energy retailers on supply contracts, drawing on new build renewable projects to accelerate the availability and affordability of green energy and providing more choice to Australian households.
The transition to renewable energy will support Woolworths Group’s progress towards its carbon reduction target of 63 per cent by 2030. It is the first Australian retail target to be endorsed by the UN-backed Science-Based Targets Initiative in line with the business’ contribution to limiting climate change to 1.5 degrees.
Since 2015, Woolworths Group has reduced its carbon emissions by around 25 per cent through a range of energy efficiency initiatives including LED light conversion and refrigeration optimisation, including the introduction of natural refrigerant gases.
Woolworths monitors its energy consumption across supermarkets through an Energy Management Centre that tracks electricity use in real-time, pinpointing peaks and patterns to support energy reducing interventions, cutting consumption for some stores by up to 10 per cent.