One of Ballarat’s largest employers will soon flick the switch on a new solar facility as it continues its quest to become 100 per cent carbon neutral.
Earlier this week Mars signed a 20-year power purchase agreement with energy company Total Eren, who are developing the Kiamal Solar Farm near Ouyen in northern Victoria.
The agreement will also facilitate the development of a second solar facility, to be located in New South Wales.
Total Eren plans to have the Victorian farm fully up and running by mid-2019 and generating the equivalent of all of Mars’ electricity needs by the following year.
Mars Australia general manager Barry O’Sullivan said “we hope to inspire and encourage others to work towards a low-carbon future” through the agreement.
“Our primary concern is doing what is right for the environment,” Mr O’Sullivan said.
“Over the lifetime of the deal we expect to see a benefit, and we hope to mitigate the challenges we’ve had from the volatility of energy prices over the last few years.”
The announcement comes a year after Mars announced it would spend $1.34 billion to reduce emissions across its supply chain by 67 per cent by 2050.
The company’s Ballarat plant has also placed no waste into landfill since 2015.
Each year Mars Australia uses 101 gigawatt-hours of energy across its industrial plants and offices, with 34,000 megawatt hours being used at the Ballarat factory.
In a statement, Total Eren chief executive David Corchia said the deal “sends a strong message to the rest of the market that now is the time to capitalise on the opportunities offered by renewable power purchase agreements and to drive positive change in the environment”.
The move comes amid a flurry of renewable energy projects taking off in western Victoria, with particular growth in new wind energy.
Grampians New Energy Taskforce chairman Stuart Benjamin said he expected to see the move by Mars replicated across the country as big energy users look to lock in stable electricity prices into the future.
“With the way energy prices are increasing at the moment any large scale user would be thinking about how they can secure affordable power,” Mr Benjamin said.