Townsville zinc refinery owner Sun Metals Corporation has committed to power its entire operations with 100 per cent renewable electricity by 2040.
The company announced it had joined the global RE100 initiative, led by the Climate Group in partnership with CDP.
It is among 15 Australian companies, with a combined market capitalisation of $470 billion, which have now joined RE100 – pledging to switch to 100 per cent renewable electricity by a set date.
Sun Metals chief executive officer Kiwon Park said the company would encourage all major smelters and refineries in Australia to consider joining RE100.
“The more we all move towards 100 per cent renewable, the more we can save money and create a cleaner future for Australia’s industry and the environment,” he said.
Sun Metals is the second largest single site consumer of electricity in Queensland and next year expects to use 1100GWh/yr of electricity.
In 2018, it invested $200 million in a 125MW solar farm to lower energy costs and underpin the expansion of its zinc refinery.
As part of its renewables transition, Sun Metals is also considering the purchase of wind assets in Queensland. This could deliver a combined wind and solar portfolio that would bring the business close to 90 per cent renewable electricity.
This will leave a small gap that will be filled by other technologies such as batteries, biogas and hydrogen.
Sun Metals Corporation has future investment plans in green hydrogen (hydrogen produced with renewable energy) and recently secured a $5 million grant from the Queensland Government to develop one of North Queensland’s first renewable hydrogen production facilities.
“We have already started our renewables journey,” Mr Park said.
“As the first major energy user in Australia to build its own large-scale solar farm, we’re already getting 22 per cent of our electricity from solar and based upon our development pipeline we will easily achieve 100 per cent renewable by 2040.”
RE100 Australian coordinator Jon Dee said Sun Metals was setting a positive example for Australia’s other industrial energy users.
“Now that Sun Metals is going 100 per cent renewable, we’re hoping that every smelter and refinery in Australia will follow suit and do the same,” he said.
The 15 Australian members of RE100 include: Woolworths Group, Westpac, Sun Metals, Suncorp, QBE, NAB, Mirvac, Macquarie, Interactive, Dexus, Commonwealth Bank, BINGO Industries, Bank Australia, Atlassian and ANZ.
Globally, there are now 269 members of RE100 and the organisation says more than 70 of these international companies have operations in Australia.