Aussie businesses take renewable energy to the next level
15 May 2019 at 4:24 pm
A customer-owned bank has become the first Australian bank to switch to 100 per cent renewable electricity amid a growing push for clean energy in the business sector.
Bank Australia’s switch was made possible through the installation of rooftop solar at its Melbourne head office and national contact centre in the Latrobe Valley, and the signing of a 10-year agreement with renewable energy developer Pacific Hydro.
The organisation joins Westpac and tech company Atlassian as recent Australian companies to join RE100 – a global corporate leadership initiative pushing companies towards 100 per cent renewable energy.
Damien Walsh, Bank Australia managing director, said he was proud to see the bank achieve the goal it set four years ago, a year ahead of its 2020 target.
“Being the first bank in Australia to switch to 100 per cent renewable electricity is a huge achievement for us. Our customers have told us they want to see clear action on climate change, and we’re pleased to show how business can lead on climate,” Walsh said.
“By running on 100 per cent renewable electricity, we’ll be avoiding 780 tonnes of carbon emissions per year, which is equivalent to taking 232 cars off the road.”
Bank Australia said it intends to share the learnings from its renewable energy switch to other companies to help speed up the energy transition across the country.
Sam Kimmins, the head of RE100, congratulated Bank Australia on reaching its goal so quickly and seizing the huge investment opportunities of the future.
“Partnering with others to buy wind power at an affordable price is a model used by leading businesses around the world,” Kimmins said.
“With benefits ranging from lower risk to increased global competitiveness, we expect many more Australian companies to get going on the path to 100 per cent renewable power.”
RE100 Australia coordinator Jon Dee added that Bank Australia had set a really positive example.
“They’ve increased the use of wind and solar power and at the same time they’ll save money on their energy bills. They’re showing other Australian companies that renewables are beneficial for the bottom line as well as the environment,” Dee said.
Atlassian and Westpact have both pledged to go fully renewable by 2025, while the other Australian RE100 company – Commonwealth Bank – aims to reach this target by 2030.
Westpac revealed the first part of its transition last month, announcing a power purchase agreement with Bomen Solar Farm that is expected to be operational by mid-2020.
The bank has committed to purchase just over a quarter of the solar farm’s output under a decade-long agreement.
Westpac Group CEO Gary Thursby said the bank had long recognised climate change as one of the most significant issues set to impact the long-term prosperity of the economy and the standard of living.
“We see our move towards the use of renewable energy in our operations as being key to delivering on our existing climate change and sustainability commitments,” Thursby said.
“When it comes to renewable energy, the advancement of technology and reduction in cost has presented a great opportunity to make this transition in a cost effective way.”
Last year, renewables investment in Australia totalled more than $20 billion, and recent research suggests Australia could be powered by 100 per cent renewables by 2032 at the current rate of solar and wind installation.