Schneider and BlueScope partner for landmark renewable PPA

Schneider Electric has partnered with BlueScope Steel to secure one of Australia’s largest corporate renewable energy power purchase agreements (PPA).

The landmark seven-year PPA will see BlueScope offtake 66 per cent of the 133MW of energy generated from ESCO Pacific’s Finley Solar Farm.

The 500,000 solar panel farm to be located at Finley, 100km West of Albury in the Riverina of NSW, is expected to be online by mid-2019.

ESCO Pacific managing director Steve Rademaker said by transacting directly with the project, BlueScope’s PPA will enable the solar farm to commence construction later in the year, creating jobs and injecting much needed value into the local economy.

“ESCO Pacific is delighted to be partnering with BlueScope, an iconic Australian company that has identified the substantial energy cost savings that a solar corporate PPA can deliver to its business,” Mr Rademaker said.

“ESCO Pacific strategically identified the site at Finley as an ideal location for a solar farm due to its high solar resource and direct connection to the existing TransGrid owned Finley substation.

“These factors were critical in helping deliver to BlueScope a cost effective solar corporate PPA.”

The project will provide 130 jobs during the construction phase and create eight permanent jobs once fully operational. Investment in the project is expected to exceed $250m.

New South Wales Energy Minister Don Harwin attended the signing ceremony today and applauded the innovation, industry leadership and example set by the three companies involved in the historic agreement

“NSW takes a technology-neutral approach to energy and we want to see a diverse range of generation sources to ensure the reliability and affordability NSW needs for the future,” Mr Harwin said.

BlueScope Steel Australian Steel Products chief executive John Nowlan said by investing in solar power, the company is helping to accelerate the decarbonsation of the grid.

“This PPA is one of Australia’s largest corporate offtake agreements, and is the largest with a solar farm to date, and complements our firm electricity supply arrangements, which provide the reliable electricity supply we need for manufacturing processes that must operate 24/7,” Mr Nowlan said.

“The PPA will help keep downward pressure on our energy costs, and will support the gradual transition to renewable energy.

“The volume under the agreement is equivalent to 20 per cent of BlueScope’s total Australian electricity purchases.”

Mr Nowlan said the company backs the Federal Government’s proposed national energy guarantee (NEG) and emissions targets.

“BlueScope’s approach to energy has always been about balancing the trilemma, whereby we have access to affordable and reliable energy while reducing emissions where we can – which is why we support the intent of the NEG,” he said.

“BlueScope supports Australia’s 2030 emissions target, including the government’s target to reduce electricity sector emissions by 26 per cent on 2005 levels by 2030.

“By investing in solar energy, we are helping accelerate the decarbonisation of the electricity grid by reducing greenhouse gas emissions by around 300,000 tonnes of CO2 each year.”

Schneider Electric’s Energy and Sustainability Services (ESS) advised BlueScope Steel on the deal.

ESS launched the new services earlier this year to assist business in the adoption of-low-cost renewable energy through PPAs and other projects.

“As the world’s largest renewable energy and cleantech consultant, Schneider Electric has long been committed to helping businesses benefit from adopting low-cost renewable energy sources through PPAs and other projects,” Schneider Electric managing director Gareth O’Reilly said.

“Today, we are delighted to see our partnership with BlueScope come to fruition in the form of a landmark renewable energy PPA with ESCO Pacific, and to see them join a growing cadre of local and global companies committed to sourcing renewable energy.

“Australian businesses have been left struggling with inflated energy bills and budgets, with both wholesale electricity and LGC prices more than doubling between 2015 and 2018.

“We worked closely with BlueScope Steel to identify a long-term renewable energy PPA as a strategy to reduce cost in the short term and reduce volatility over the longer term.”