Canadian Solar inks solar PPA with Amazon in Australia

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Canadian Solar has signed a solar power purchase agreement (PPA) with online shopping giant Amazon to help the company meet its renewable energy goals. The power will be supplied from the 146 MW/110 MW Gunnedah Solar Farm, which will reach commercial operation by 2021.

The solar project was part of the deal between Netherlands-based renewables developer Photon Energy and Chinese PV heavyweight Canadian Solar sealed in 2018 to codevelop five New South Wales solar farms with the accumulated capacity of 1.14 GW. Under the agreement, Canadian Solar acquired 51% in five Photon Energy projects, including the 220 MW Gunning, 160 MW Maryvale, the 189 MW Suntop Solar Farm, 200 MW Mumbil/Suntop 2, and the 150 MW Gunnedah solar farms.

In September, Photon Energy announced it had sold its 25% stake in the Gunnedah project to Canadian Solar and voiced expectations that the transaction would be completed latest in Q4 2019.  The remaining 24% stake in the project is held by Sydney-based Polpo Investments.

“Canadian Solar is a leading developer in the Australian solar market, where we have a pipeline of nearly 1.2 GWp, including 335 MWp of projects ready to build,” said Dr. Shawn Qu, Chairman and CEO at Canadian Solar. “We look forward to growing our solar projects and solar module supply businesses in Australia, while expanding into other C&I sectors in this region. We see a bright future ahead as Australia continues to expand its renewable energy market.”

C&I PPA market entry

The Gunnedah Solar Farm was approved mid-March last year by the NSW Independent Planning Commission (IPC) following careful consideration of all the evidence and weighing the community’s views. Labeled as a state significant development, the project ended up with the IPC after the NSW Department of Planning and Environment received more than 25 public objections, which is the threshold for the referral. 

The solar farm located approximately nine kilometers north-east of the township of Gunnedah will utilize Canadian Solar’s BiKu bifacial modules installed on a single axis tracking system. It is expected to generate an estimated 293,000 GWh of electricity a year and create 100 construction jobs at peak construction periods.

While no details have been revealed as to the amount of energy contracted under the PPA, the deal with Amazon represents Canadian Solar’s first PPA in New South Wales and marks its strategic entry into the Australian commercial and industrial PPA market, which has been growing from strength to strength. “Canadian Solar is very proud to sign this power purchase agreement with Amazon. Our team has worked hard to bring this opportunity to fruition, and we look forward to further collaboration with Amazon, while we bring the Gunnedah project to commercial operation,” Dr. Shawn Qu said.

The news of the Australian solar PPA comes only weeks after Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos pledged US$10 billion to a new fund set up to tackle climate change. The e-commerce giant set a goal last year to power its operations with 100% renewable energy by 2030. It also aims to achieve net-zero carbon emissions across its operations by 2040.