Queensland Coles supermarkets will be running on 90 per cent renewable electricity within three years under a deal struck with the state government.
The retail giant has agreed to buy 400 GWh of electricity from government-owned renewable energy firm CleanCo annually from July 2022.
Coles has 180 supermarkets as well as hundreds of Coles Express and bottle shops in the state.
Under the 10-year agreement Coles will purchase 75 per cent of its electricity from two wind and solar energy projects being built in the Darling Downs and another 15 per cent from CleanCo’s existing portfolio.
Chief executive Steven Cain says the deal will cut Coles’ national carbon dioxide emissions by about 20 per cent, which is like taking 100,000 vehicles off the road annually.
“We are thrilled that with these agreements, Coles can make a significant contribution to the growth of renewable energy supply in Australia, as well as to the communities we serve,” Mr Cain said in a statement on Tuesday.
“We have already made changes throughout our business to use energy more efficiently, which has enabled us to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 36.5 per cent since 2009, while growing our team member base and store network.”
Coles will buy the electricity from the Western Downs Green Power Hub, which is set to be Australia’s largest solar farm, and the MacIntyre Wind Farm, one of the largest wind farms to be built in the southern hemisphere.
The deal ensures that both projects will be completed, which together with CleanCo’s Karara existing wind farm will create 800 local jobs.
Energy Minister Anthony Lynham said affordable, reliable energy supply underpinned the state’s COVID-19 economic recovery plan.
“Affordable reliable energy is critical to business and industry, and their capacity to create jobs,” he said.
Greenpeace campaign director Lindsay Soutar praised Coles “stepping up to the plate”, saying it will help future-proof jobs.
But she said with Coles heading toward having 30 per cent of its nationwide operations powered by renewables it should just go all the way, like competitor ALDI.
“If even more of Australia’s biggest companies switch to 100 per cent renewable energy, it will create thousands and thousands of future-proof jobs for Australians, modernise our energy grid, and help ensure a safe and healthy future for all,” Ms Soutar said.