EVA trial sees corporate PPA sleeving ‘go live’ for the first time

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In a first for the New Zealand electricity market, Rose Family Estate (RFE), the owner of the brand Wairau River, is now virtually powered by a new rooftop solar array owned by Energy Marlborough on the outskirts of Blenheim as featured on Stuff.

Initially the solar array is expected to supply about seven per cent of RFE's electricity, which is then 'sleeved' (i.e. bundled) into their regular electricity supply by their retailer, Mercury. Mercury tops up the supply when solar generation is low, as well as purchasing excess solar generation. RFE continues to receive a single bill from Mercury each month, which now includes the solar electricity from Energy Marlborough.

The trial was arranged by EVA Marketplace, which brokers power purchase agreements (PPAs) between renewables developers and businesses, and facilitates PPA sleeving arrangements.

"Corporate PPA sleeving is commonplace in the UK and Australian markets so it's great for this arrangement to 'go live' in New Zealand for the first time," EVA Founder Paul Coster says. "I'd like to thank everyone for their efforts, including emhTrade who were involved in the earlier stages."

In international markets, corporate PPAs are playing an essential role in the clean energy transition by helping to finance new renewables. Since 2008, corporations have signed PPAs for clean power totalling 148 GW according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. New Zealand’s total renewables capacity is ~7 GW, which needs to at least double by 2050 for the country to achieve a sufficient reduction in carbon emissions.

RFE CEO Lindsay Parkinson says the winery is excited to be part of this innovative project. "Corporate PPA sleeving is a simple way to improve the sustainability of our winemaking operations. We investigated installing our own solar but we don't have suitable space or, quite frankly, the time. This arrangement provides benefits similar to installing our own solar without the hassle." 

"This arrangement allows us to reduce our carbon emissions, energy costs and the pressure we put on the national grid, as well as supporting a local renewables project. There's also scope to increase the virtually supplied solar in the coming years which future-proofs the deal for us".

Marlborough Lines (parent company of Energy Marlborough) Commercial Manager Scott Wilkinson says the trial demonstrates they can sell power from their solar farms directly to local businesses and organisations at a reasonable and fixed price, which helps to secure a return on their investments.

"Selling electricity to local consumers aligns with our strategy to energise Marlborough's future. The fixed price arrangement provides greater certainty than selling our electricity into the wholesale market, where prices can be persistently low if there's a lot of water in the hydro lakes." 

Mercury's Head of Wholesale Markets Tim Thompson says the trial also helps Mercury to cater to changing customer demands and support independent renewable generators.

"We are committed to delivering innovative solutions for our customers, and supporting renewable generation to enable New Zealand's transition to a low carbon future."

EVA Founder Paul Coster sees huge potential for corporate PPA sleeving to help grow New Zealand's renewables, which is needed to support electrification of the economy and Aotearoa's net zero carbon goal.

"Businesses are showing a strong interest in PPA sleeving because it aligns to their energy and sustainability goals, and avoids exposure to New Zealand's volatile wholesale market."