Sydney Opera House inks hybrid renewable PPA

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The Sydney Opera House will be predominantly powered by a blend of wind and solar ensuring certainty of supply and pricing in the years ahead.

Based on a power purchase agreement (PPA) inked with commercial electricity retailer Flow Power, more than 85% of the Opera House’s yearly energy consumption of 16 GWh (equivalent to 2,500 households) will be matched with renewable energy supply for the next seven years.

The Opera House is investing its annual $2.4 million electricity spend in sourcing power from major New South Wales (NSW) wind and solar projects, including the Sapphire Wind Farm in Glenn Innes and the Bomen Solar Farm under construction in Wagga Wagga.

“The Opera House is Australia’s first heritage-listed building to commit to this innovative energy retail model, joining a growing number of high-profile organisations leading the way towards a low carbon future through investment in large-scale renewable projects,” said Ian Cashen, Sydney Opera House Executive Director of Building. “This deal brings us another step closer to our long-term renewable energy goals and will deliver significant savings in operational costs over its seven-year period.”

Saving on electricity bills is one of the key drivers for Australian businesses with annual energy use of more than 100 MWh per year to negotiate a renewable energy PPA. As shown by the March figures from Flow Power, its high-use energy customers have collectively saved $14 million with PPAs since the start of 2018. Last month’s tally showed the figure updated to $15.4 million of combined savings and 254 MW committed of Flow Power’s 440 MW renewable portfolio.

With corporate PPAs in Australia on the rise, there is a growing need for flexible energy solutions among today’s businesses. To meet the growing demand, innovative PPAs and services for C&I customers have emerged at pace with a number of flexible new solar PV contract models and services on offer, including Flow Power’s hybrid PPAs which aim to leverage the best of wind and solar to deliver greater benefits.

Bomen and Sapphire 

The 120 MW Bomen Solar Farm is the first renewable energy asset in the portfolio of network owner Spark InfrastructureThe project was acquired from developer Renew Estate, which is partly owned by German developer Wirsol Energy. It is located close to the Wagga North substation where it will connect into TransGrid’s transmission network. The project includes a 40 MWh battery storage component.

Construction is carried out Melbourne-based Beon Energy Solutions, which is owned by Victoria Power Networks (in which Spark Infrastructure has an ownership interest of 49%). A total cost at completion is expected to amount to approximately $188 million. Commercial operations are slated to commence in Q2 2020.

The project will feature bifacial PV panels supplied by Jinko Solar, inverters from SMA and trackers from Nextracker. It is expected to employ around 250 workers in the construction phase.

The Bomen Solar Farm has an inked PPA with commercial electricity retailer Flow Power. Under the deal announced in December, Flow Power contracted 69 MW of the farm’s output to power munchies producer Snack Brands and winemaker Australian Vintage, which previously became the first Australian wine producer to sign a large-scale hybrid renewable corporate PPA.

The second PPA for the Bomen Solar Farm, which was announced on the same day as the project acquisition, was inked with Westpac, as part of its commitment to a 100% renewables target. Westpac became the third major bank to sign up to the to the global initiative RE100 and made major steps towards the goal,with the PPA to purchase over a quarter of the output from the Bomen Solar Farm, under a 10-year contract, covering both the electricity and LGCs.

The 270 MW Sapphire Wind Farm is one of the wind projects contracted by the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Government as part of its 100% renewable energy target. The ACT has supported 100 MW of the project, which contributes around 12% of its target. It started exporting electricity to 48,000 ACT homes last May.   

On top of that, the largest wind farm in New South Wales is helping Commonwealth Bank of Australia move towards 100% renewable power by 2030 under a 12-year PPA as of January this year.

Sapphire became part of ambitious plans for a 470 MW renewable energy hub when Australian developer CWP Renewables received planning approval last year. The massive hybrid is set to feature a 200 MW solar+storage project collocated with the wind farm.

Other sustainability achievements

Last year, the Opera House was certified carbon neutral, five years ahead of its goal. Today, it also announced it had been awarded a 5 Star green building rating, becoming one of the first World Heritage-listed buildings globally to achieve the certification.

On top of that, the Opera House completed the installation of a series of modular artificial reefs alongside its sea wall with the goal to increase marine biodiversity and support native species in Sydney Harbour.