Yearly Wrap-Up: Power Shifts: 2020, the year that cemented a renewable future

Experts explain that, in the story of major strategic change, there is a tipping point. In the story of renewable energy in Australia, I’m putting my money on 2020 being the tipping point. Before this year, the transition to renewables seemed difficult and contested. Suddenly, there is a drive, even a sense of urgency about the transition. Nonetheless, the question remains, where do Australian high-energy-consuming businesses want to be in this transition – leading, following, or lagging?

Shifting power: Energy gets strategic

I see two global strategic shifts as primed to consolidate now as the tipping point.

Firstly, like most of you, I was absorbed by the US presidential election. Joe Biden has made climate change, most particularly renewable energy, a priority. While the details of this will remain contested in the divisive US political system, positioning climate change as not just a domestic challenge, but at the forefront of foreign policy, represents a major shift.

Secondly, the economic disruption unleashed by COVID-19 and the seemingly-widening political rift between Australia and China has sharpened our domestic focus on our economic independence. Is it possible that Australia could, for example, grow its own high-technology manufacturing sector, with energy at the forefront? Certainly, we are being challenged to become more innovative, future focused and self-sufficient.

How secure is our platform for transition?

The good news is Australian businesses are well-placed for leadership. In 2020 corporate Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) program experienced their highest rate of growth. Despite the stressors applied to the economic system, the corporate PPA market has thrived. The BRC-A State of the Market report showed that Covid-19 did little to dampen the appetite of corporates to shift to renewable energyThe evidence is overwhelming that corporate Australia seeks a position of leadership, with 16 BRC-A Buyer Members and Bootcamp attendees now having signed 18 deals, constituting >650 MW of renewable power contracted and >3,100 MW of wind and solar supported or enabled.

Businesses, like the wider community, want to ensure that renewable energy is a cornerstone in national economic recovery. This strategy is not just increasingly rewarding for the bottom line – it is important for building trust and engagement with communities and business partners. Our internal research clearly shows that the members of BRC-A are shifting how they position their transition to renewable energy:

  • from cost to opportunity
  • from an operational to a strategic consideration
  • from hidden business input to a profiled business driver
  • from accounting department to the boardroom.

How can you get involved?

I realise that for many businesses, a transition to renewable energy remains daunting – a risk. We get this at BRC-A, and we’ve learned a lot over the last two years about how to help businesses decide if PPAs are the right tool. In 2021 we will leverage our momentum from 2020 to offer opportunities for new businesses to develop the renewable-energy knowledge and capabilities to consider the Power Shift.

Our first instalment of our Buying Power Webinar Series in 2021 will explore what this Power Shift means for your business. Hear from corporates and the Renewable Energy Buyers Forum USA about their outlook.

BRC-A is also hosting an Industry Event in Queensland. The purpose of this event is to highlight the opportunity through PPAs for councils and state procurement agencies to meet Queensland’s renewable energy targets. If you are a council in Queensland register to attend this event.

Our first Buyers Bootcamp Bootcamp kicks off in March 2021. Register early to secure your place at this in-depth course on PPAs. If you aren’t already a member, buyer organization can sign on for free.

Building a community of leaders for quicker and smarter Power Shift

There are many people who play a role in helping to achieve BRC-A’s aim to increase the quantity and quality of renewable PPAs in Australia. It is important for me to raise the profile of one group of leaders in particular: our BRC-A Faculty – buyers who have completed a PPA deal. BRC-A Faculty commit to attending one of our Buyers Bootcamps each year and presenting at events to share insights on their PPA experience – our philosophy is that the most powerful learning comes from listening to those who have been through it.  At BRC-A we thank our BRC-A Faculty for showing leadership in the renewable energy transition.

If you have led a PPA deal in your company, get in touch and join our Faculty community to amplify the impact of your deal and continue the momentum across the business community!

Power Shift: a new Program Director will lead BRC-A in 2021

At BRC-A we have our own power shift – I am passing on the reigns of Program Director to someone new in the new year.

My experience as acting Program Director during a pandemic has taught me two valuable lessons. Firstly, a strategically-robust organisational model leverages its value in times of stress. Secondly, working as part of a team with skills, compassion and humour is always a privilege. I recall being reluctant to take on the Program Director role because of the demands of other work. I’m now grateful I didn’t win that argument – it has been a privilege to work for this organisation. I am extremely excited about the future with the soon-to-be-announced Director at the helm.

I will be re-energising my work to initiate the Australia branch of Transformation Capital, implementing ideas on how we direct investment finance to projects that enable regions (communities, businesses and governments) to adapt to climate change. I’d love to hear from you if these ideas spark any interest.

Finally, I offer my sincere thank-you to the BRC-A team, all our members, partners and funders (ARENA, NSW, Victoria and Queensland State Governments) for another great year! Your support continues to energise this initiative and will enable us to do even more in 2021.

After 12 years working in the sustainability and energy sectors, I have never been so confident to give organisations this piece of advice: the tipping point of renewables is here – secure your claim.

Genevieve Mortimer – Acting Program Director, BRC-A

 

INVITATION: 2021 Buyers Bootcamps 

Please fill out this survey to register your interest for our 2021 Buyers Bootcamps.

To note: these events are strictly for energy-buying organisations only (i.e. organisations procuring for their own electricity load). We will be in contact shortly with further information about how to secure your place at the Bootcamp.

MARCH 2021 dates announced

9:30-12:30 Wednesday 10th, Friday 12th, Tuesday 16th.

INVITATION: 2021 Buyers Bootcamps

Buying Power S2,Ep. 1 | Power Shifts: Australian Corporate PPAs – who is buying and why?

29 Jan 2021, 14:00 – 16:00 | Register

Industries, economies and communities across the world are grappling with net zero commitments and what their future energy needs will be in a decarbonised world. Yet through this complex and uncertain year, one Power Shift is increasingly clear: Economies will shift to renewable. It’s not a matter of if but when and how. In this new world order, energy is a strategic opportunity which organisations can leverage.

The Business Renewables Centre Australia (BRC-A) is a not-for-profit, members-based organisation providing PPA resources both online and face-to-face, supported by funding from ARENA and the QLD, VIC and NSW State Governments.