The 15-year solar supply agreement with Maoneng is billed as the first of its kind in Australia — bringing together a retailer, developer and corporate — and will allow UNSW to achieve its goal of carbon neutrality on energy use by 2020.
UNSW Sydney believes it is the first university worldwide to go fully energy carbon neutral with 100% of its needs supplied from solar PV.
“This landmark initiative is an exciting step towards realising UNSW’s goal of carbon neutrality on energy use by 2020 and reflects our commitment to making a positive global impact,” said UNSW president and vice-chancellor, Professor Ian Jacobs.
“Over the past six months, UNSW has collaborated with our contract partners Maoneng and Origin, to develop a Solar PPA model that leads the way in renewable energy procurement and reflects our commitment to global impact outlined in our 2025 Strategy.
“It is also highly significant and a testament to the world-class research carried out here at UNSW, that a technology which we played a leading role in developing is now being used to provide the university with a renewable source of emissions free energy.
“UNSW researchers, in particular Professor Martin Green and the late Professor Stuart Wenham and their teams, have been instrumental in ensuring that solar energy is affordable and accessible to all – today’s announcement is a testament to their work.”
The agreement, which was signed on 14 December 2017, will see UNSW purchase up to 124,000 MWh of renewable energy per annum from Maoneng’s Sunraysia Solar Farm located near Balranald in south western NSW, meeting UNSW’s annual energy requirement starting in 2019.
A three-year retail firming contract was also signed with Origin, as the electricity retailer, to manage the intermittency of solar production.
NSW Energy Minister Don Harwin said the agreement was evidence of UNSW’s leadership in renewables.
“Already a world leader in solar PV technologies, this agreement is yet another demonstration of UNSW’s commitment to a clean energy future," he said.
“I congratulate UNSW for entering into this agreement, it’s not only great for the environment but it will deliver jobs and investment in regional NSW”.
In December 2017, UNSW’s School of Photovoltaic and Renewable Energy Engineering was awarded 12 projects with a total cash grant value of more than $16 million from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, of which five projects are focusing on the further development of UNSW’s Advanced Hydrogenation technology to improve world record commercial solar cells.
Maoneng’s Project finance director Kevin Chen said, “By collaborating with Origin and UNSW and maintaining an open dialogue, we have created a corporate PPA template that we believe not only works for UNSW, but can be replicated and tailored to fulfil the specific needs of each customer.”
Origin’s general manager, Business Energy, Ryan Willemsen-Bell, said, “Origin is proud to be a contract partner in this agreement with UNSW and we are committed to creating innovative solutions to help our customers meet their carbon neutrality aspirations.
“At Origin we are accelerating our transition towards renewables. And our customers want to be part of that given our target to have more than 25% of Origin’s generation mix coming from renewables by 2020.”