Aldi Australia says it has hit the target of powering all of its operations with 100 per cent renewable electricity six months ahead of schedule, marking a national first for major supermarkets and setting a cracking pace for the rest of corporate Australia.
The Australian arm of the German supermarket chain said on Tuesday that it had achieved the milestone this month, putting it well ahead of the targeted end-of-2021 deadline, which the company set for itself in August of last year.
The achievement – notched up through a mix of on-site solar, wind farm off-take deals and renewable energy certificate purchases – makes Aldi the first supermarket chain in Australia to have all offices, stores and warehouses powered entirely by renewables, and cuts its carbon footprint by 85 per cent.
And that is no small achievement, considering Aldi is the 67th biggest user of electricity in Australia, with 555 stores and eight distribution centres nationwide.
“We have always been a business that prioritises doing the right thing over talking about it,” said Aldi Australia CEO Tom Daunt in a statement.
“We hope that other businesses across the country are encouraged by what we have been able to achieve and accelerate their own plans around renewable energy.”
As RenewEconomy sister site One Step Off The Grid reported here, Aldi’s rooftop solar roll-out kicked off at a Tweed Heads store in Northern NSW in 2015. By the end of 2021 it will have been extended across 274 stores and six distribution centres.
Much of the on-site solar has been installed in partnership with NSW-based outfit, Epho, which last year noted that the average Aldi store was generally fitted with a 100kW rooftop PV system, which “coincidently is also what is needed to off-set the day-time energy consumption of the store.”
On the distribution centres, Epho said the commercial arrays had ranged in size from 1.5MW at the Dandenong facility in Victoria, to 1MW in Brendale Queensland, and 650kW in Regency Park, South Australia.
“Last year, at the peak of the program, we delivered 100 solar systems on Aldi stores in 100 business days,” said Epho managing director Oliver Hartley in a statement this week.
“This kind of speed is only possible because Aldi and Epho have built a strong partnership over the years,” he said.
For its wind energy, the company teed up two power purchase agreements in the first half of 2020, including a 10-year deal with Ratch Australia to buy just under 20 per cent of the power generated by its 227MW Collector wind farm in the New South Wales Southern Tablelands.
The second PPA, secured in April 2020, was a 10-year deal with Tilt Renewables to buy around 6 per cent of the output of its massive 336MW Dundonnell wind farm in Victoria.
At the time they were made, the wind farm deals – both of which were scheduled to kick in in January of this year – were expected to generate more than 180,000MWh of electricity to go towards powering Aldi Australia.
On top of this, the supermarket chain had invested in more efficient systems to reduce energy usage and carbon emissions, including LED lighting, energy-efficient chillers, and upgrading to natural refrigerants.
Any shortfall in renewable supply from the solar and wind is being covered through the purchase of renewable energy certificates.
“Our customers care about ensuring they purchase with purpose and every time someone walks through our doors they can feel confident their weekly shop isn’t costing the earth,” said Daunt.
“We’re already known for our high quality products at incredibly low prices and as a responsible Australian business, we’re thrilled to be maintaining this great value without compromising the environment.”
Greenpeace Australia Pacific CEO David Ritter welcomed the milestone as an example of genuine corporate climate leadership in action.
“Renewable energy is the cheapest form of new energy, and capable of powering Australia’s biggest businesses. Aldi’s leadership in the race to power all Aussie supermarkets with renewables is a landmark day,” Ritter said.
“Aldi’s deals with two new wind farms in Victoria and New South Wales are contributing to regional economic activity and new, future-proof job creation in clean energy at a time when we need it most,” he added.
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