Australian retail giant Coles Group has locked in two major new renewable energy deals, signing agreements with Engie and Neoen to buy large-scale generation certificates (LGCs) – but not the actual power – from a range of already operational wind and solar projects across four states.
From Engie, Coles will purchase LGCs generated from the 119MW Willogoleche wind farm, which started operating in mid-2019, and the 46MW Canunda wind farm, both in South Australia.
With Neoen, Coles has signed a separate agreement that will source LGCs from the French company’s portfolio of renewable power plants located across New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria and South Australia.
Coles, which last month announced ramped up climate targets of 100 per cent renewables by the end of the 2025 financial year and net-zero emissions by 2050, said that once the agreements commenced, the company would have committed to purchasing more than 70% of the renewable electricity required to meet its FY25 target.
That said, the deals have been confirmed to be for LGCs only, in that Coles has agreed to buy the LGCs created by the existing renewable energy plants, but not procure the actual power.
Coles stressed in an email to RenewEconomy, however, that it had been the first major Australian retailer to commit to buying renewable electricity from new solar farms in NSW, as RE reported here, and last year committed to source more than 90% of its Queensland electricity requirements from CleanCo.
“As part of our ambition to be Australia’s most sustainable supermarket we’ve launched our new ‘Together to Zero’ sustainability strategy with a long-term aspiration towards zero emissions, zero waste and zero hunger,” said Coles chief sustainability, property and export officer, Thinus Keeve in a statement on Thursday.
“The agreements are with some of the world’s top renewable electricity companies and show we’re taking a leading role in driving climate action in Australia,” he said. “It puts us in a great position to be powered by 100% renewable electricity by the end of FY25.”
Engie ANZ executive general manager of energy management, Andrew Hyland, said the deal with Coles would enable the company to make further investment in new renewable energy projects across Australia.
“Engie is pleased to be supporting Coles to take significant steps towards its ambition of being Australia’s most sustainable supermarket,” he said.
Neoen marked the agreement with Coles as its first portfolio-wide deal in Australia, which it described as “an exciting advance” that demonstrated the depth of its asset pool and the strength of its owner-operator business model.
“We are delighted to be partnering with such a prominent Australian company like Coles, as it makes another step towards its target of 100% renewable energy by 2025, underscoring its contribution to the broader energy transition,” said Neoen Australia managing director Louis de Sambucy.
Australia’s supermarket chains have been leaders in the corporate push to renewables, with Woolworths last year committing to buy all of its electricity from renewable sources by the same 2025 deadline, while Aldi has said that it will become 100 per cent renewables powered by the end of the year.