• The solar installation at Woolworths in Orange, New South Wales.
    The solar installation at Woolworths in Orange, New South Wales.

Australian retailers made almost double the renewable energy commitments of any other industry in 2020, Greenpeace Australia’s latest report card says. Its Reenergise 2020 Corporate Renewable Snapshot found retailers had made 1146MW of clean energy commitments.

The snapshot is the first Australian report to calculate the cumulative impact of corporate 100 per cent renewable energy commitments, found that renewable electricity targets of 28 of Australia’s largest companies will drive 2.8GW of new renewable projects in coming years.

That is the equivalent of powering 1.3 million households, or nearly all the homes in Brisbane and Perth combined, Greenpeace said. More than 5000 clean energy jobs would be created by these companies making the switch, it said.

The report ranked the food and beverage sector third when it came to adopting renewable energy.

REenergise campaign director Lindsay Soutar said it should come as no surprise that retailers are out in front in the race to renewable energy.

“Australian companies made a huge leap forward on the switch to 100 per cent renewable electricity in 2020, with clean energy commitments by major Australian businesses now set to create solar and wind power equivalent to powering all the homes in Brisbane and Perth combined.

“Major chains such as Woolworths, Bunnings and ALDI committing to 100 per cent renewable energy saw retail eclipse other industries. Retailers signing deals with wind and solar farms in regional Australia and using their abundant roof space to host solar panels, has seen them get out in front of Australia’s rapid transition to clean energy.”

The report said that while 2019 was the year for big breweries to make 100 per cent renewable commitment, the retailers stepped up this year. Woolworths – the country’s 6th largest electricity user – announced it would be 100 per cent renewable by 2025, sourcing the majority of its power through deals with new-build wind and solar farms.

The Woolworths Group has also committed to net-zero emissions by 2050. Last year, its commitment to Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions reductions by 2030 were endorsed by the UN-backed Science-Based Targets initiative (SBTi).

Greenpeace said ALDI had the most ambitious time frame. It has committed to be 100 per cent powered by renewables this year through two major deals with wind farms in New South Wales and Victoria.

Coles has also recently signed two major power purchase agreements in New South Wales and Queensland. The Queensland deal will see 90 per cent of its energy sourced from locally generated wind and solar for its Queensland operations. The company has yet to commit to 100 per cent sustainable energy.  

Soutar said: “Retail giants making the clean energy switch shows that 100 per cent renewable energy is a no-brainer for businesses – it’s cleaner, cheaper and a crucial part of their responsibility to tackle climate change.”

“Greenpeace Australia Pacific is now calling on big retail brands like Coles and Kmart to ramp up their climate commitments and switch to 100 per cent renewable electricity.”

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