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Coates’ nationwide solar panel program powers net-zero goals

Robyn Simpson, National Manager for Environment & Sustainability, explains why Coates is rolling out solar panels across its branch network


Coates’ pathway to a more sustainable future includes achieving net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2040, with short-term targets approaching in FY26. As we continue to implement our sustainability strategy, we’re installing rooftop solar panels across our national branch network.

The two-year program will see thousands of panels installed at our largest branches in every state and territory in Australia. Once completed, the solar program will reduce Coates’ Scope 2 greenhouse gas emissions – the indirect emissions associated with the purchase of electricity – by around 1,500 tonnes annually.

The investment in on-site renewables will not only help Coates to reduce GHG emissions, but it will also lower the company’s operating costs, with an annual energy saving assisting with business resilience.

Turning strategic vision into reality

Our vision at Coates is to be the market leader in safe, smart and sustainable equipment solutions. Thanks to our Greener Choices range, our people are familiar with solar equipment and the resulting benefits in terms of energy and emissions. So it was a logical first step in our net-zero energy roadmap to install our own solar at branches to help meet our emissions reduction targets.

Initial planning began in 2022 by analysing our current emissions footprint. Electricity energy across our branch network contributed about 40% of Coates' emissions. Recognising that Coates would face significant energy cost increases in this turbulent period in the electricity market, we also sought to minimise our reliance on grid energy, particularly across our largest sites.

Working with our solar energy partner, we then conducted a property portfolio assessment to estimate the size of the opportunity. We assessed the historic and forecast energy demand and costs, as well as strategic property insights regarding tenure and physical property constraints. We are maximising the emissions benefit by installing in those states with a higher reliance on coal-powered electricity, while each state transitions its network.

After receiving executive support, we began installing the first solar panels at Ingleburn, in NSW, in February 2023. We are currently just over 1,720 panels installed across 20 branches, with another round of solar install projects poised to kick off in early 2024.

Solar panels at Coates Dandenong branch

Solar panels at Coates' Dandenong branch.

Benefits of the solar program

We’re prioritising solar panel installation at sites with the highest energy use and emissions, with the aim to complete installation at our largest sites by the end of FY25.

The benefits of transitioning to renewable electricity include:

  • Clean energy generated on site behind the meter, which will reduce our emissions by 1,500 tonnes annually

  • Reducing our exposure and dependency on daytime grid consumption, which will lower our electrical energy costs

  • Monitoring energy usage at branches in real-time, allowing us to identify anomalies and opportunities to improve energy efficiency

  • Supporting Coates’ electrification by allowing access to low-cost on-site renewable electricity to charge our electrical fleet and, increasingly, electric vehicles

  • Converting the roof – a once obsolete feature of a rented premises – into a value-adding space

  • Engaging with our people by demonstrating our vision in a very tangible way and inspiring individual action

As we look toward a zero-carbon future, we all have a critical role to play and an opportunity to act. At Coates, we’re proud to be acting on emissions by generating clean, renewable electricity and reducing our energy use in small but impactful ways, such as retrofitting LED lighting. We look forward to sharing our progress, our challenges and the lessons learned along the way.

To learn more about Coates’ sustainability journey, visit coates.com.au/sustainability

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