COMPANIES around Europe have signed almost 5GW of power purchase agreements (PPAs) with wind farms – almost equivalent to the total wind energy capacity of Denmark and enough to power 35 million homes.

PPAs were only launched in 2014 and, although they were mostly in the ICT sector, others are following suit, according to WindEurope, the voice of the industry.

The agreements give industrial customers long-term energy supplies at fixed prices and although most are for around 15 years, Norwegian aluminium producer Norsk Hydro signed a 29-year deal in 2018 with a company in Sweden.

In Scotland, Telecoms group BT has five PPAs, all related to ICT, and Mars, Nestle, HSBC and Sainsbury’s all have one apiece.

Among the industrial sectors, aluminium was the most active, led by Norsk Hydro with rival Alcoa signing a deal in Norway.

The pharmaceuticals and automotive sectors also agreed their first PPAs, with car maker Mercedes-Benz announcing deals in Poland and Germany. Its German PPA will see wind energy powering its electric vehicles and battery manufacturing.

WindEurope said Nordic countries still have the most PPAs, but added that last year saw Germany, Spain and Poland all reach their first agreements. France and Italy are also said to be considering them. The EU Clean Energy Package could help them - it requires governments to remove any regulatory barriers.

Giles Dickson, CEO of WindEurope, said: “Corporate PPAs are booming.

“Industrial consumers across a range of sectors have now bought nearly 5GW of wind energy via PPAs.

“Last year saw a record number of new deals, and the first PPAs in the automotive sector and in pharmaceuticals - and the first in Germany, Spain and Poland.

“In Germany Mercedes are now going to use wind to power their EV and battery factories - what an advert for the Energiewende.

“It shows industrial consumers see wind power as competitive and reliable.

“And it’ll help allow industry to reduce its energy costs.”

Dickson said there were big CO2 benefits that were also to be gained: “Industry accounts for over half of Europe’s electricity consumption. But some countries still have barriers to PPAs.

“They’ll have to remove them under the EU’s Clean Energy Package, and they should say how in their national energy plans this year.”

Environmental campaign group, WWF Scotland, welcome the rise in PPAs.

Gina Hanrahan, its head of policy, said: “We know that big businesses in Scotland understand the risks of dangerous climate change and the financial benefits of tackling it. Shareholders and customers are demanding action.

“That’s why it’s fantastic to see more and more companies opting to go green by purchasing renewable power directly.

“This is helping to cut bills and provide clear routes to market for renewable energy projects.”

The PPA news came a week after WWF released a report from Vivid Economics, which showed that Scotland had multiple options to end its climate emissions by 2045.

Senior economist, Maarten Hage, said: “In particular due to its large per capita land area, Scotland is well placed to pursue emissions reductions through afforestation and other low carbon land management practices. Although there is uncertainty as to the precise scope and scale of deployment, what is clear is that these options are vital to achieving net-zero and realising the ambitions of the Paris Agreement.”