Maryanne Coffey, Events and Marketing Manager, BRC-A
On my first day on the job at the Business Renewable Centre Australia in February this year I recounted a few key things I knew about the new organisation I was joining:
- BRC-A’s mission is to accelerate corporate purchasing of large-scale wind and solar energy and storage via Corporate Power Purchase Agreements (PPA), and big global players (Google, Nike, IKEA) have contracted directly with renewable energy generators for many years in a market whose development has been greatly helped by the Rocky Mountains Institute Colorado.
- BRC-A is an independent member hub for energy buyers, project developers, and professional service providers.
- It is a not-for-profit initiative of WWF-Australia’s Renewable Energy Buyers Forum, Climate-KIC Australia and the University of Technology Sydney (UTS).
But it was when I joined my colleagues to deliver the BRC-A Buyers Bootcamp (in its inaugural online version) that I gained real insight into the strategic importance BRC-A provides to the renewable energy sector in Australia.
If I am honest, it was not until the bootcamp that I fully understood the philosophy behind how we work and why this is critical to the change we aim to create.
What is a Buyers Bootcamp?
Now I clearly understand the contrast between organisations that only disseminate information and those that aim for deeper engagement through community–building. Although BRC-A produces a lot of information, at our core, our aim is to build the ecosystem.
Here is an example of an interaction from the Bootcamp which demonstrates this difference:
On the chat function in our workshop a member of the BRC-A Faculty (experienced corporate energy buyers and industry experts) was sharing what they found and are continually finding most challenging now the deal is completed, whereas another Faculty representative added to the conversation, ‘I’ve just been through this process; give me an email and we can have a chat.’
This spirit of creating safe spaces for energy buyers at all stages of the process to share difficulties, solutions, and advice makes the BRC-A shine. Also, at BRC-A, we don’t start from scratch where we don’t have to – we continue to learn from the US experience, including through monthly calls with the BRC-US Director at the Rocky Mountains Institute, Mark Porter.
Through this process we generate deep insights on what the real barriers are to doing ‘good’ PPAs, including developing more nuanced perspectives on the questions:
- Do buyers trust the market?
- Do buyers understand the market?
- Are incentives to support just transitions well understood?
It’s not only buyers executing PPA deals who benefit from BRC-A. Our operations represent a clear win-win situation for different players in the industry. Buyers hedge against volatile energy prices and meet sustainability objectives at the stroke of a pen, and this is done with increasing simplicity as BRC-A curate the sharing of insights and knowledge whilst supporting them in a growing, engaged network. Project developers are more likely to reach financial close on their development when they have a signed a Corporate PPA. Service providers have access to more, better-informed clients. State and local governments reap the benefits of economic activity, investment, and jobs, whilst providing a means to meet their own policies aiming to decarbonise their economies.
Hence, the strategic logic of our entire business is building communities of buyers who have done, are doing or are interested in starting PPA deals, creating a positive ripple effect through multiple other stakeholders linked to the renewable energy industry. Indeed, before the BRC-A existed, I believe there was a gap in the industry for independent support for PPA procurement, which in retrospect had been the most profoundly underutilised catalytic action towards enhancing and maturing the renewable energy market here in Australia.
Our strategy and the role BRC-A plays in the market will only increase in importance in Australia’s post COVID-19 rebuild phase.
Increasingly, Corporate PPAs will play a pivotal role in Australia’s electricity market and large-scale renewables industry, especially once the LGC (Large-Scale Generation Certificate) price falls away as the RET (Renewable Energy Target) is filled. This will be crucial to both Australia’s post-pandemic economic recovery and changing electricity market. By entering a PPA with a renewable energy generator, organisations can manage wholesale price fluctuations, reduce electricity bills, reduce their reportable emissions, and secure related brand benefits. Corporate PPAs are not new and they have a bright and indeed vital future in helping Australia to secure an affordable, reliable and environmentally responsible energy sector.
About the Buyers Bootcamp
The BRC-A Buyers Bootcamp is an intensive course on PPA procurement, giving energy buyers the opportunity to hear key insights and perspectives on the opportunities and challenges of the process from those that have led processes themselves.
The bootcamp is suitable for energy buyers in corporate, local and state government and institutions, particularly for Energy Procurement Managers, Sustainability Managers, CFOs or Finance Managers and Legal and Contracts Managers.
BRC-A Buyers Bootcamp – register your interest
Please fill out this survey to register your interest for the next Buyers Bootcamp (note this information will not be shared). Please note this is for energy buying organisations only. We will be in contact shortly with further information about how to secure your place at the Bootcamp.