Sunshine on tap as industry-scale PPA set to power NSW & ACT pubs

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Liquid sunshine, amber nectar and the golden thirst quencher, these are all names which will take on new meaning in New South Wales (NSW) and the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) as hundreds of pubs and hotels are set to join the renewable energy transition through a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA). Beer drinkers and watering holes alike will see their thirst for energy quenched by renewable resources like solar PV.

The agreement came over the weekend between French energy company Engie, the Australian Hotels Association (AHA), Tourism Accommodation Australia (TAA), and the deal’s anchor partner, brewing giant Lion.

Engie will form a PPA with a solar farm through its retail arm Simply Energy in order to supply renewable energy to participating NSW and ACT pubs and hotels for 10 years using a world’s first industry-scale aggregation model.

Lion’s Managing Director James Brindley said he was pleased that Lion could be a cornerstone of the deal based on the brewer’s energy requirements in NSW. “We are pooling our energy needs in the state, which includes our largest brewery Tooheys, together with the needs of participating NSW hotels,” said Brindley, “in 2020, this will see a typical hotel’s energy price drop from 11.5c/KWh to 6.9c/KWh – a 40% saving, equating to around $18,000 a year.”

Lion’s all-consuming presence in the beer world means that it consumes a great deal of energy as well, enough energy for a PPA of sufficient size to underwrite new large-scale renewable energy investment. Specifically, the Lion partnership will help underwrite the construction of Engie’s Silverleaf Solar Farm, a 120 MW installation just outside Narrabri, NSW.

“It’s typically only the largest industrial energy users who are able to enter into these arrangements with enough load to underwrite new investments in renewable energy at low prices,” said Engie Australia & New Zealand CEO, Augustin Honorat.

“This arrangement is designed to combine the retail load of hundreds of hotels and pubs, offering potential savings compared to their existing deals, greater price certainty for 10 years and a link to renewable energy to supply the energy transition,” continued Honorat.

The deal was secured by AHA’s joint venture partner, Clean Energy Strategies, who ran a tender process with more than 50 developers of new solar and wind farms. “This is a ground-breaking arrangement,” said AHA NSW and National President Scott Leach, “which will help break the back of high electricity prices paid by our members and is a significant step in moving the NSW hotel industry to renewable energy.”

Corporate PPAs are going down easily in the beer industry as producers seeing the attraction of lower energy costs and the boost to brand association. Only last month Victoria Bitter (VB), one of Australia’s most iconic brewers, announced a 12-year PPA with the 112 MW Karadoc Solar Farm in Mildura. VB made the announcement with a typical TV advert.

And now, from 2020 onwards, drinkers at hundreds of watering holes across NSW and ACT will know that the golden liquid coming out from the taps has been golden from start to finish.