Emerging retailer Flow Power has added a third wind power project – and a third state – to its business retail energy portfolio, with a contract to buy 50MW of the output from the new 270MW Sapphire Wind Farm in northern NSW.
The deal marks the latest move in flurry of energy off-take activity for Flow Power, since the launch of its Corporate Renewable Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) market offering in 2017.
As we reported here, the Melbourne-based company has been a pioneer, in Australia, of coordinating cheap renewable power supply deals for business and industry, starting with a “first-of-its-kind” PPA with Ararat wind farm in Victoria in September last year.
The ground-breaking Ararat deal gave the retailer access to up to 50MW of capacity from the 240MW facility, for terms of around 10 years.
The deal with Sapphire, which is under construction in the New England region of New South Wales, marks the company’s first move into that state, where it has also opened an office in Sydney this week.
In August, Flow inked its first Queensland deal, to take the output from 50MW of the proposed 104MW Lakeland wind farm that Windlab is looking to build about 60km south-west of Cooktown on the Cape York Peninsula.
And in June, also in Victoria, it struck a power offtake deal with the proposed Kiamal solar farm, which CEO Matthew van der Linden described at the time as “really cheap,” and “well below the rates out in the market.”
As we have noted on RE before, the Australian PPA market has been guarded about pricing, which makes it difficult to gauge exactly how cheaply the energy is being supplied.
But in an interview with One Step Off The Grid in August, Flow Power’s van der Linden said PPAs meant businesses could access power at less than 10c/kWh – a significant discount on what they would ordinarily pay.
“That is a game changer for businesses …. and could be the difference between business customers going broke and customers being able to operate,” he said at the time.
Presumably, it is prices like these that have seen Flow win corporate off-take customers like Olam Orchards, ANCA Machines and Burra Foods.
But PPAs are also a good thing for renewable energy developers, allowing them to secure finance off the back of a guarantee of customers for the wind and solar energy generated.
The Sapphire project, which is currently being built in the NSW New England region by joint owners CWP Renewables and Partners Group, will be the state’s largest wind farm once it is completed later this year.
And in August, plans to add large scale solar and battery storage facilities to the existing wind farm at Sapphire – thus creating one of Australia’s biggest renewable energy hubs – won state government approval.
“We’re proud to reach agreement with Sapphire Wind Farm, and continue to build Australia’s growing pipeline of renewable energy projects,” van der Linden said in comments this week.
“We are committed to bringing the benefits of corporate renewable PPAs across Australia, and to reach New South Wales is a milestone for us.
“With four successful agreements under our belt, we are well positioned to support the integration of renewable generation and gradually reshape the Australian power market,” he said.
“We are starting to see businesses save on what can be their most costly expenditure – energy – while everyday Australians benefit from greater investment in renewable generation and lower energy costs delivered by wholesale demand response.”