The University of New South Wales in Australia has signed a world-first agreement with Maoneng Australia and Origin Energy to secure 100% of its electricity from solar PV, becoming the world’s first university to go fully carbon neutral with its energy sources.
On Monday, the University of New South Wales (UNSW) announced what it believes to be both an Australian-first and world-first agreement to source 100% of its electricity needs across a 15-year solar Power Purchase Agreement to support the University’s goal to achieve carbon neutrality on energy use by 2020. The Australia-first component of the PPA brings together retailer, developer, and corporate, while the world-first component sees the UNSW become the world’s first university to go fully energy carbon neutral with 100% of its electricity needs supplied by solar PV.
The PPA was signed between the UNSW with Chinese-Australian solar developer Maoneng Australia and major Australian utility Origin Energy. The UNSW will secure up to 124,000 megawatt-hours (MWh) of renewable energy each year from the Sunraysia Solar Farm near Balranald in south-western NSW, which is owned and operated by Maoneng, and will meet the University’s energy annual energy requirements in 2019. Origin will act as the electricity retailer and will manage any solar intermittency.
“This landmark initiative is an exciting step towards realising UNSW’s goal of carbon neutrality on energy use by 2020 and reflects our commitment to making a positive global impact,” said Ian Jacobs, UNSW President and Vice-Chancellor Professor. “The Solar PPA arrangement will allow UNSW to secure carbon emission-free electricity supplies at a cost which is economically and environmentally attractive when compared to fossil fuel-sourced supplies.
The 200 MW Sunraysia Solar Farm is still in its development stage after being approved for construction in July of 2017. Construction is expected to commence in the second quarter of this year, with Engineering, Procurement, and Construction (EPC) to be provided by Decmil Australia.
The University of New South Wales already has some of its own solar installations built atop the University’s rooftops, and only last month the UNSW’s School of Photovoltaic and Renewable Energy Engineering was awarded 12 solar projects by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) with a total cash grant value of more than AUD$16 million.
“Already a world leader in solar PV technologies, this agreement is yet another demonstration of UNSW’s commitment to a clean energy future,” said NSW Minister for Energy Don Harwin. “I congratulate UNSW for entering into this agreement, it’s not only great for the environment but it will deliver jobs and investment in regional NSW.”
“By collaborating with Origin and UNSW and maintaining an open dialogue, we have created a corporate PPA template that we believe not only works for UNSW, but can be replicated and tailored to fulfil the specific needs of each customer,” added Maoneng’s Project Finance Director, Kevin Chen.
The PPA signed with UNSW also serves to create a template for similar PPAs in Australia, a country without a strong corporate PPA market.
“By collaborating with Origin and UNSW and maintaining an open dialogue, we have created a corporate PPA template that we believe not only works for UNSW, but can be replicated and tailored to fulfil the specific needs of each customer,” said Kevin Chen. “In 2018, we look forward to accelerating the advent of corporate PPA activity in Australia by working with other interested customers.”
“Origin is proud to be a contract partner in this agreement with UNSW and we are committed to creating innovative solutions to help our customers meet their carbon neutrality aspirations,” said Origin’s General Manager, Business Energy, Ryan Willemsen-Bell. “At Origin we are accelerating our transition towards renewables. And our customers want to be part of that, given our target to have more than 25% of Origin’s generation mix coming from renewables by 2020.
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