City of Melbourne leads second “bulk-buy” renewables auction

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Melbourne Renewable Energy Project releases second tender, combining purchasing power of seven large energy users to source 113GWh a year of Victorian solar or wind.

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A group of leading Melbourne universities and businesses has joined forces to procure 113GWh a year of renewable energy generation, marking the second major bulk-buy renewables project to be led by the City of Melbourne.

The Melbourne Renewable Energy Project released a tender on Friday, combining the purchasing power of seven large energy users to source their electricity from a large scale solar or wind project in Victoria.

The purchasing group, led by the City of Melbourne, this time includes a diverse groups of big energy users, including RMIT University, Deakin University, Cbus Property, ISPT Property, infrastructure construction group Fulton Hogan, Citywide Asphalt, and major food manufacturer Mondelez International.

The details of the tender – which was released to a closed group of “all eligible retailers” in Victoria – have not been made publicly available, but it is understood it calls for either existing or new renewable energy generation, is technology “agnostic,” and could be met via a portfolio of projects.

A council spokesperson said consideration of wider community benefits, and local employment opportunities, would also play an important role in deciding the winning tender.

The new MREP auction follows the enormous success of its ground-breaking first tender, for 88GWh a year of renewable energy, which helped to underwrite construction of Pacific Hydro’s 80MW Crowlands wind farm, near Ararat.

The consortium behind that power purchase agreement – double the size of this one – included RMIT, Federation Square, City of Port Phillip, City of Yarra, Moreland City Council, Bank Australia, Zoos Victoria, Citywide, National Australia Bank, Australia Post, Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre and NEXTDC.

For the City of Melbourne, the Crowlands deal – which contracted the group to buy roughly on-third of the power generated by the wind farm at an undisclosed price – took it to 100 per cent renewables, topping up previous efforts in energy efficiency and rooftop solar installs.

“Leading by example, we’re building on the success of the first Melbourne Renewable Energy Project to facilitate renewable power purchase agreements for businesses across the city,” the City of Melbourne’s Deputy Lord Mayor Arron Wood said on Friday.

“This project would lead to university campuses, manufacturing facilities, shopping centres, retail stores and office buildings across Melbourne being powered using renewable energy.

“It will support industry in a rural area and provide a tangible example of climate change leadership. The first Melbourne Renewable Energy Project resulted in 140 construction jobs,” he said.

“We’re showing how large energy users from diverse organisations can support the transition to a secure, low-carbon electricity system.

“To avoid the catastrophic impacts from climate change, we need more organisations to commit to renewable energy.”

The tender closes on December 20, and council says it expects evaluations of submissions to take place over four to five months, and for a contract to be in place before the end of the current financial year.

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