Co-op partners with Voltalia for 15-year solar PPA
The Co-op has signed a 15-year corporate power purchase agreement (PPA) with Voltalia for a 34MW solar farm in North Yorkshire, in a bid to accelerate its path to net-zero carbon emissions across its operations.
The agreement entails the entire output from Voltalia’s 34MW Eastgate solar project near Scarborough, which is set to be fully operational in 2025.
The retail giant will source the electricity for its estate, including food stores, distribution centres and Co-op Funeralcare homes across the UK.
According to the company, the initiative will enhance the energy grid’s sustainability and foster transparency in the renewable energy sector.
Moreover, the Co-op anticipates the agreement to not only facilitate increased access to green energy but also to ensure energy reliability, to stimulate economic progress, and to advance its journey towards achieving net-zero.
The Co-op Group’s chief executive officer Shirine Khoury-Haq said: “Whilst businesses have a part to play, reform to allow much more rapid progress for projects such as the Eastgate solar project is urgently needed.
“Whilst the significant progress the UK has made to date is to be applauded, as a country we remain too reliant on fossil fuels, and ambitious targets alone won’t deliver the benefits that a net-zero grid will deliver, from energy security to lower generation costs to the better outcome for the planet that’s so desperately needed.”
Construction has begun on the farm, set to include 62,500 solar panels upon completion. At full capacity, these panels will collectively generate enough electricity to fulfill 7.5% of the Co-op’s annual electricity needs.
The company’s forecasts predict an annual production of around 34,000 megawatt hours (MWh) of electricity, sufficient to power over 170 Co-op Food Stores, 500 Co-op Funeralcare homes, or supply electricity for approximately 12,500 average UK households.
The Co-op anticipates the agreement to unlock the needed investment for the solar plant, aiding in adding renewable generation to the UK and aligning with its goal of achieving net-zero operations by 2035 and absolute net-zero emissions by 2040.
As outlined in its Climate Plan, the company has urged the Government to expedite the greening of the grid. This involves simplifying participation for businesses and communities and revamping the certification and promotion processes for renewable electricity generation.
Voltalia anticipates that the signing of this contract with Co-op will reaffirm its position as a leader in PPA solutions for corporates and organisations.
Voltalia’s chief executive officer Sébastien Clerc said: “We are very proud to support the Co-op in their net carbon zero target by providing clean electricity in the food industry, reaching millions of individuals and enabling us to raise awareness of more sustainable and responsible consumption.”
In related news, global manufacturer Kimberly Clark signed a PPA with Octopus Renewables Infrastructure Trust (ORIT) earlier this year, to procure wind power from an onshore wind farm in Scotland and decarbonise its energy portfolio.