M&M’s maker enters the solar system

Mars Australia flicks the switch to solar energy to deliver on its promise of becoming ‘Sustainable in a Generation’

By Anthony Myers

- Last updated on GMT

Barry O’Sullivan, a general manager at Mars Australia, inspects one of Total Eren's solar farms. Photo: Mars Australia
Barry O’Sullivan, a general manager at Mars Australia, inspects one of Total Eren's solar farms. Photo: Mars Australia

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Mars Australia announces it will be one of the first FMCG manufacturers in Australia to source the equivalent of 100% of its electricity from renewable energy sources.

Mars Australia’s commitment to become ‘Sustainable in a Generation​’ has moved a step closer with the announcement of a 20-year power-purchase agreements (PPA) with Total Eren to generate the equivalent of 100% of Mars’ electricity from renewable energy by 2020.

Total Eren, a French renewable energy company, is building the Kiamal Solar Farm near Ouyen, Victoria that will be operational in mid-2019. The Mars PPAs will also facilitate the planned build of a second renewable project by Total Eren in NSW.

The deal means that Mars has contracted for energy from the solar farms to match the electricity requirements of its six Australian factories in Asquith, Ballarat, Bathurst, Wacol, Wodonga and Wyong and two sales offices in Melbourne and  Sydney.

The PPAs are part of a broader Mars journey to become ‘Sustainable in a Generation’, with plans to reduce greenhouse gasses across the supply chain by 67% by 2050.

"Mars is thrilled to be flicking the switch to solar energy​,” said Barry O’Sullivan, a general manager at Mars Australia. “It's about making a long-term commitment to a sustainable, greener planet that will benefit our customers, our consumers and the local and global community​."

The Australian arm of the global candy and pet food manufacturer does not take energy directly from the solar farm to power its operations. By helping to underwrite a part of the project, Mars provided the security necessary to enable the project developers, Total Eren, to expand the solar farm to a planned Stage 1 capacity of 200 MW.

In return, Mars will receive the Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) created by Kiamal Solar Farm, which are transferable for all Mars’ electricity use in all of its Australian facilities.

'Drive positive change in the environment'

Partnering with manufacturing thought leaders like Mars Australia is essential and sends a strong message to the rest of the market that now is the time to capitalize on the opportunities offered by renewable power purchase agreements and to drive positive change in the environment​,” said Total Eren CEO David Corchia.

Kevin Rabinovitch, Mars Global VP Sustainability said, “Last year, we announced we’re spending a billion dollars in the next three years to start transforming our supply chain to get those impact reductions. We’ve made solid progress on the sustainability of our own operations since 2007, so now we’re in a good position to accelerate work and share lessons with our supply chain partners as we tackle impacts beyond our own operations​.”

Australia is currently one of the highest emitters of greenhouse gas per capita in the world, with electricity generation being a major contributor.

"The rise in electricity prices last year accelerated our plans to join Mars sites in the US, UK and nine other countries in moving to renewable electricity​," O'Sullivan said.

Mars is already using or purchasing renewable electricity to cover 100% of its operations in Belgium, Brazil, Lithuania, the United Kingdom and the United States.

This year, the manufacturer aims to add Austria, the Czech Republic, France, Spain, Poland and Mexico to the list of countries where it uses or funds renewable electricity to cover 100% of its operations.

"We acted quickly because the price volatility of energy in Australia made renewables the best option for our business, in addition to getting us closer to our commitment to eliminate greenhouse gasses from our operations by 2040​," O'Sullivan said.

Sam Kimmins, head of RE100, The Climate Group, said, “Investing in solar power is a sound business decision in light of fluctuating energy costs in Australia. By adding renewables capacity and engaging suppliers, leaders like Mars can spur wider corporate action that can shift the local market away from fossil fuels and start bringing down the country’s high emissions​.”

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