SOLAR VOICE: January/February 2020

With combatting the climate crisis now a firm priority for the British public, more and more businesses are investigating how they can decarbonise their operations to deliver greener products and services to their increasingly environmentally-savvy customers. Many have turned towards renewables as a solution, with some even setting a deadline to reach 100% renewable energy procurement under the brilliant RE100 initiative.

One such RE100 member, Tesco, has committed to sourcing 100% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030, and to include over 50% from PPAs and on-site generation, with an interim milestone to source 65% renewable electricity by 2020.  Late last year, the supermarket giant announced a major green electricity procurement project which includes the installation of solar PV on 187 of its sites, covering 335,000m2 and a ground-mount solar park.

To deliver the project, Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) have been signed with a number of organisations, including EDF Renewables, which will own and operate solar PV on around 20 and 17 sites respectively.

Not that renewable energy procurement is the sole venture of RE100 members, late last year British water firm Anglian Water announced the establishment of a 25-year PPA with NextEnergy Capital to deploy over 35MW of solar PV across a number of its sites, having already signed a 25-year PPA with installer HBS New Energies, for 30MW of solar PV the previous year.

Not limited to the private sector, PPAs have also been effectively utilised by local authorities to deliver pioneering projects that not only provide affordable clean power, but also generate significant sums of revenue. Warrington Borough Council established a PPA with developer Gridserve for a 34.7MWp solar park in York. Featuring bifacial panels, sun tracking and 30MW of battery storage, the park is the most technologically advanced ground-mount PV system to be deployed to date. Under the agreement, a second 25.7MWp solar park has also been developed in Hull, and both projects will generate millions of pounds in revenue annually, which the council plans to reinvest in vital services.

PPAs are set to become a mainstay of renewable energy procurement for the foreseeable future. The appeal for climate-conscious corporations comes from being able to insulate from electricity price volatility over a long-term period. PPAs define a fixed price linked to specific renewable energy generation assets, typically for 10-20 years, perfect for businesses that take strategic views on procurement and wish to benefit from price stability over a long timeframe.

RE-Source UK 2020, the UK’s largest gathering of renewable energy buyers and suppliers, offers the chance to explore PPAs in much greater detail, and to develop a keen understanding of the opportunities, challenges, costs and regulations involved. Taking place on March 26, this event also presents an unmissable opportunity to connect with renewable energy suppliers, corporate and public sector energy buyers. Furthermore, those on the buying side get to attend for free!

We hope to see you there.

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