Woolworths Group switches to 100% green energy in SA

Woolworths Group’s operations in South Australia will be powered by 100 per cent renewable electricity from July this year – “the first state to go completely green in the retailer’s nationwide transition by 2025,” the company said in a statement.

A new South Australian renewable energy partnership will see the retailer’s almost 70 Woolworths supermarkets, 17 BIG W stores and Adelaide Regional Distribution Centre go green – “equivalent to every home in Brighton and Glenelg switching to green energy” (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2016 Census data).

Under a new energy partnership from July, Woolworths Group will source South Australian renewable electricity from Iberdrola Australia’s wind turbines and solar network at the newly developed Port Augusta Renewable Energy Park – where 50 turbines and 250,000 solar panels will work in tandem to supply approximately 100,000 Megawatt hours of renewable electricity per year on the retailer’s behalf.

South Australian Premier Peter Malinauskas says: “South Australia has long been a world leader in renewable energy, paving the way for more businesses to switch to clean energy.

“This is the way the world is moving. Private capital is now leading the charge in backing clean energy, which presents a big opportunity for South Australian jobs. Which is why the State Labor Government is working to ensure we maintain our position as a national leader on renewable energy.

“I congratulate Woolworths Group on this exciting initiative.”

Woolworths Group CEO Brad Banducci says: “South Australia will be the first state where every one of our sites are powered by green energy and we’re excited to use renewable energy generated locally to reduce the footprint of our stores from Roxby Downs to Renmark.

“South Australia has helped lead the transition to renewable energy in Australia, combining solar, wind and batteries to enable us to make this leap forward in our mission to be powered entirely by renewable sources by 2025.

“Our customers want us to make shopping better for the planet, and renewable energy is one of the key ways we’re boosting sustainability with the support of our sustainability innovation business Woolworths360.

“Our supermarkets are growing greener and South Australia is leading the way, not only on renewable energy but also on plastics, with all our stores switching to compostable fruit and veg bags last month.

“We’re proud to be making tangible changes today that will create a better tomorrow for generations to come and we look forward to building on this in other states over the next three years.”

In its transition to renewable energy, Woolworths Group is prioritising partnerships which draw on new-build renewable projects to help accelerate the industry’s growth and enhance the availability and affordability of green energy to other businesses and the community.

The multi-million-dollar, nine-year partnership between Woolworths Group and Iberdrola Australia in South Australia supports the development of the Port Augusta Renewable Energy Park, which will be fully energised in the coming months.

Iberdrola Australia Managing Director and CEO Ross Rolfe AO says: “We are delighted to be supporting Woolworths Group in their sustainability journey by providing their retail stores in South Australia with 100 per cent green energy.

“Woolworths Group is demonstrating that together we can decarbonise our electricity sector, preserving our natural environment and creating jobs in Australia’s regional communities.

“The Port Augusta Renewable Energy Park is the largest hybrid wind-solar farm in the southern hemisphere. It operates as part of Iberdrola Australia’s large and rapidly growing portfolio, providing our customers with electricity supply agreements that are reliable, affordable and clean.”

Following this milestone in South Australia in July, Woolworths Group will continue to gradually replace traditional energy contracts in other states with green agreements as it transitions to renewable energy nationwide by 2025.

As Australia’s largest retailer, representing around one per cent of the country’s total energy use, Woolworths Group’s transition to renewable electricity by 2025 represents a significant influx of green energy to the national grid and a sizable investment in the sector over the next three years.

Since 2015, Woolworths Group has cut its carbon emissions by more than 27 per cent through ongoing investment in energy efficiency, including the transition to LED lighting in more than 1000 supermarkets, and the continued rollout of its own solar panel network across the rooftops of stores and distribution centres – with more than 99,000 panels across 171 locations.

Woolworths Group has pledged not only to reach net neutral carbon emissions by 2050, but to make its operations net carbon positive by 2050.

South Australia has been the site of a range of retail sustainability advancements in recent years:

  • The first state to ban single use plastic bags and picnicware;
  • The home of Woolworths’ strategic paper bag manufacturing partner, Detpak, which has supported the onshoring of paper bag production; and
  • Most recently, the first state in which Woolworths replaced plastic fruit and veg bags with a compostable alternative in response to high rates of composting access.

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