Supermarket giant Coles has signed a 10-year agreement with renewable power company, Metka EGN which will see the construction of three new solar power plants in regional NSW commencing as early as next month.
On completion, the plants in Wagga Wagga, Corowa and Junee will provide 10 per cent of Coles’ national electricity needs. The plants are expected to begin supplying power to the grid in July 2020.
Coles will purchase more than 70 per cent of the electricity generated by the solar power plants which will be operated by Metka EGN. The plants will supply 220 gigawatt hours of electricity, which from non-renewable sources would emit over 180,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas annually.
Coles Group CEO Steven Cain said that the decision to use more renewable energy is part of the company’s pledge to become the most sustainable supermarket in Australia.
“Coles has been a cornerstone of Australian retail for more than 100 years, and ensuring the sustainability of our business is essential to success in our second century. We are thrilled that with this agreement, Coles can make a significant contribution to the growth of renewable energy supply in Australia, as well as to the communities we serve,” Cain said in a statement on Tuesday.
“We have already made changes throughout our business to use energy more efficiently, which has enabled us to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 4 per cent over the past financial year and more than 30 per cent since 2009, despite growing our store network. Over the past two financial years alone we have invested more than $40 million in energy
efficiency measures including upgrading all store lighting to LED by the end of 2019 and the installation of solar panels on 30 stores.”
“Agreements like this are crucial to growing renewable generation capacity in Australia because they give the developers the certainty they need to invest,” Coles chief property and export officer Thinus Keeve said.
The supermarket also said it is working with property partners to use more renewable power at retail stores and distribution centres around the country.
“We plan to install solar panels on another 38 stores this financial year and we will be working with our landlords and property developers to identify further locations suitable for on-site solar power generation,” Keeve said.
Australian renewable energy developer Terrain Solar was involved in the latest project; Metka EGN then acquired the portfolio earlier this year.
“Terrain Solar is incredibly proud of this landmark agreement that will underpin the construction of three new renewable energy plants in regional New South Wales” said Terrain chairman David Griffin.
Coles said that the latest solar projects will support over 250 jobs, including over 240 construction jobs and 10 ongoing roles.