Australian university to become 100% solar powered

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The University of New South Wales in Sydney has signed an agreement to ensure 100% of its electricity needs will be met by solar photovoltaics.

The university announced this week that from 2019 it will buy 124,000 megawatt hours of clean electricity each year from a future solar farm in the state.

It is expected that the 15-year agreement will allow the institution to achieve its goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2020.

“This landmark initiative is an exciting step towards realising (our) goal of carbon neutrality on energy use by 2020 and reflects our commitment to making a positive global impact”, said Professor Ian Jacobs, the university’s President and Vice-Chancellor.

He added that the agreement will provide low-carbon electricity “at a cost which is economically and environmentally attractive when compared to fossil fuel-sourced supplies”.

The solar farm, called Sunraysia, will be constructed next year and is expected to start providing renewable power to the university by the second quarter of 2019. It will also supplement the large number of solar arrays already on campus rooftops.

The university has additionally signed a contract with Origin, an electricity retailer, to manage the intermittency of solar power. The company will also provide electricity during the construction of the plant.

The state’s Minister for Energy, Don Harwin, applauded the agreement, commenting that “it’s not only great for the environment but it will deliver jobs and investment in regional New South Wales".

He added: “Already a world leader in solar PV technologies, this agreement is yet another demonstration of UNSW’s commitment to a clean energy future.”

Consultants Energy Action, who advised on the deal, said that the “ground-breaking agreement” provided long-term certainty on price. Chief Executive Officer, Ivan Slavich, said: “We are seeing a strong trend amongst corporate energy users turning to Power Purchase Agreements as a way to hedge against future pricing movements and to meet their green energy objectives”.

Image Credit: Maoneng Australia

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