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Co-op's Monumental 15-Year Solar Accord Illuminates a Greener Tomorrow

Image Credit: Voltalia

In a groundbreaking 15-year partnership, Co-op and Voltalia have forged an agreement poised to redefine their energy landscape. The Eastgate Solar project, nestled near Scarborough, is set to revolutionize Co-op's power sourcing. This visionary project, slated for full-scale operation by 2025, will boast 62,500 solar panels, harnessing 34,000 megawatt hours of electricity annually.

Imagine the possibilities: enough power to fuel over 170 Co-op food stores, sustain 500 funeral care homes, or brighten the lives of approximately 12,500 average UK households. This formidable facility is primed to cater to 7.5 per cent of Co-op's annual electricity needs, marking a pivotal milestone in their quest for net-zero operations by 2035.

Shirine Khoury-Haq, group CEO at the Co-op, said the agreement marked a significant milestone on the company's journey towards net zero emissions, as she called on the government to step up efforts to accelerate the development of renewable energy projects.

"Not only will this agreement unlock more green energy, it will also enable energy security, drive economic growth and move us closer to net zero," she said. "That's why we still believe that grid decarbonisation should be an absolute priority for the government."

This week, the government announced a series of reforms as part of its Autumn Statement to ease planning and grid connection delays for clean energy projects. But Khoury-Haq urged Ministers to do more to remove some of the barriers renewables developers face.

"Whilst businesses have a part to play, reform to allow much more rapid progress for projects such as the Eastgate solar project is urgently needed," she said. "Whilst the significant progress the UK has made to date is to be applauded, as a country, we remain too reliant on fossil fuels, and ambitious targets alone won't deliver the benefits that a net zero grid will deliver, from energy security to lower generation costs to the better outcome for the planet that's so desperately needed."

While lauding the UK's significant strides, she stressed the need to break free from fossil fuel dependency. Bold targets, she argued, must be accompanied by sweeping reforms to unleash the potential of a net-zero grid truly.

This deal also bolsters Voltalia's already impressive portfolio, featuring a staggering 2.7GW of wind, solar, biomass, and storage capacity, with a whopping 16.1GW of projects unfurling across three continents.

Sébastien Clerc, CEO of Voltalia, said: "We are very proud to support Co-op in their net carbon zero target by providing clean electricity in the food industry, reaching millions of individuals and enabling us to raise awareness of more sustainable and responsible consumption.

In parallel developments, clean energy juggernaut Lightsource BP extends an invitation to join a collaborative, European multi-buyer corporate PPA. This visionary endeavour encompasses a constellation of solar assets slated for construction in Spain in 2024.

Diving deeper into innovation, Lightsource BP has introduced a collective PPA framework, empowering smaller and mid-sized firms to access the PPA market. This initiative promises to reshape the clean energy landscape, democratising access to renewable power.

This reimagined alliance between Co-op and Voltalia, coupled with Lightsource BP's pioneering efforts, heralds a new era of sustainable energy, propelling us ever closer to a net-zero future.

Zosia Riesner, director of power markets at Lightsource BP, described the move as an opportunity to spread the benefits of solar power to a broader group of companies.

"We've seen some of the world's largest businesses using PPAs to benefit from the affordable and predictable pricing of renewables while supporting the energy transition's continuing momentum," she said.

"Our collective PPA approach can share those benefits to companies with far lower energy usage while enjoying the scale delivered by a solar portfolio from our 1GW pipeline in late stage of development in Spain."


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