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A new online portal has been launched for organisations looking to buy large-scale off-site wind, solar electricity and battery storage. Developers can also use the portal to showcase renewable energy projects to potential buyers, communicate with them, and collect information on their interest.

Buyers can also learn more about corporate power purchasing agreements (PPA), and search renewable energy projects available for off-take across Australia. They can then contact developers directly for free.

The portal already has over 7000 MW of projects up for grabs. 

The platform – published by Business Renewables Centre – Australia (BRC-A) is a partnership between Climate-KIC Australia, WWF Australia and the Institute for Sustainable Futures, UTS, and is supported by ARENA, the Victorian and New South Wales governments. 

It builds on the success of WWF’s Renewable Energy Buyers Forum and already has over 100 registered members.

A PPA lets a business use renewable electricity with no upfront cost by partnering with an installer, who funds and builds a wind or solar farm. The contract guarantees a fixed, often index-linked rate for the electricity, letting the buyer reduce their carbon emissions and secure power at a guaranteed rate for 10 or so years. 

It’s attractive because the present electricity purchasing model is no longer a smart or low-risk business strategy, since wholesale and retail electricity prices have increased significantly across Australia in recent years, as in New South Wales, where electricity prices doubled in the 2016-17 financial year.

Only in 2017 Bloomberg New Energy Finance was predicting that the levelised cost of solar and wind generation in Australia would out-compete incumbent coal by 2030 – but a new study says this has already happened.

“Our goal is to simplify and accelerate corporate purchasing of renewables and storage,” said BRC-A’s program director, Jackie McKeon.

“In Australia, we’ve seen around 30 corporate PPAs for solar and wind energy, and there is potential for many more as corporate clean energy targets grow. The centre offers an independent, one-stop-shop roadmap for corporate PPAs where buyers, developers and service providers can connect and learn.” 

So far 67 renewable energy projects have been uploaded by 30 project developers to the BRC-A Marketplace platform, from across Australia. The new platform is accessible by members only and membership is free for energy buyers and for developers/investors and professional service providers until October 2019.

“Corporate PPAs are currently the main way for new large-scale solar and wind farms to get finance. The BRC is helping connect renewable energy buyers and sellers with over 7000MW of projects listed on the online marketplace platform – that’s over 10 times the size of large-scale renewable energy projects that were built last year and almost three times the size of projects currently under construction,” technical director Chris Briggs said.

It’s expected that users of the portal will include large energy consumers, major corporations, leading renewable energy project developers and retailers, project financiers and transaction intermediaries.

Anyone signing up will have access to the following content:

  • Buyers’ Roadmap – a detailed step-by-step practical guide to the renewable energy procurement process, from understanding needs and options to agreement execution and management.
  • Online resource library – with primers, guides and tools, templates, case studies and other useful material relevant to each stage of the PPA process.
  • Live marketplace – connecting corporate buyers with developers and retailers of available renewable energy projects across Australia.

This is all designed to remove the barriers faced by many organisations starting out in the renewable energy purchasing process. They will be backed up by buyer and developer bootcamps, the first of which is to be held in Melbourne and Sydney in May.

David Thorpe is the author of Solar Energy Pocket Reference and The Earthscan Expert Guide to Solar Technology

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