UNSW signs world-first solar energy agreement

Professor Ian Jacobs announces solar energy agreement

In the first deal of its kind in the world university sector, UNSW has reached an agreement with Maoneng Australia and Origin Energy to have 100% of its energy supplied by photovoltaic solar energy.

UNSW has announced a tripartite arrangement with contract partners Maoneng Australia (Maoneng) and Origin Energy (Origin) for an offsite Solar PV Corporate Power Purchase Agreement (Solar PPA).

The 15-year solar supply agreement with Maoneng is 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 believes it is the first university worldwide to go fully energy carbon neutral with 100% of its needs supplied by solar photovoltaics (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.

“The Solar PPA arrangement will allow UNSW to secure carbon emission-free electricity supplies at a cost which is economically and environmentally attractive when compared to fossil fuel-sourced supplies.

“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,” said Professor Jacobs.

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 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 Minister for Energy 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,” said Mr Harwin.

“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."

The negotiations, which took over 12 months, were led by the UNSW Estate Management Energy Team from Facilities Management.

To read more on UNSW's historic solar energy agreement visit the UNSW Newsroom.

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