Australian university to go 100% solar

In what is believed to be the first deal of its kind in the world, the University of New South Wales has signed an agreement to have 100 per cent of its energy supplied by photovoltaic solar energy.

The 15-year Solar Purchase Power Agreement (PPA) between the University of New South Wales (UNSW), Maoneng Australia and Origin Energy will allow UNSW to achieve its goal of carbon neutrality on energy use by 2020 – and it will make UNSW the first university in the world to go fully energy carbon neutral with 100 per cent of its needs supplied by solar photovoltaics.

“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,” UNSW President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Ian Jacobs said in a statement.

“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 agreement, which was signed on 14 December 2017, will see UNSW purchase up to 124,000 MWh of renewable energy per year from Maoneng’s Sunraysia Solar Farm near Balranald in southwestern New South Wales.

A three-year retail firming contract was also signed with Origin, as the electricity retailer, to manage the intermittency of solar production.

The ground-breaking PPA will provide UNSW with a direct line of sight over the source of renewables supply, reduced emissions, and greater give it certainty around prices over the next 15 years.

“We are seeing a strong trend amongst corporate energy users turning to PPAs as a way to hedge against future pricing movements and to meet their green energy objectives,” explained Ivan Slavich, CEO of Energy Action, a consultancy firm that helped broker the agreement.

Image credit: UNSW/Maoneng Australia

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