Australia looks set to copy its US counterparts by implementing a digital marketplace that will allow businesses to buy renewable energy supplies in a bid to reduce both carbon emissions and costs.

The country wants to increase its potential regarding sustainable energy, as its climate lends itself well to wind and solar power.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) will take part in building the country’s first Business Renewables Centre. The hope is that both corporations and councils will have an opportunity to access more affordable renewable energy.

In the past, some have criticized renewable energy sources due to their being too expensive and unreliable. However, combining these sources with technological advances will make it easier to gauge their cost and performance. The Business Renewables Centre could bypass some of the barriers that have faced the renewable energy market so far.

ARENA has committed $500,000 in funding to the project, while the state governments of Victoria and New South Wales will contribute another $300,000. Climate-KIC Australia, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) Institute for Sustainable Future will collaborate in leading the establishment of the Business Renewables Centre.

Their plan is to deliver one gigawatt of renewable energy by 2022 and five by 2030, which will go a long way toward helping Australia meet the climate commitments that it signed up for in the 2015 Paris agreement.

The Business Renewables Centre will operate similarly to the Rocky Mountain Institute in the US, which provides an online marketplace to encourage better procurement. It enables positive power purchase agreements (PPAs) that allow the forward purchasing of renewables to take place. The building of the infrastructure has a guarantee of delivery that should help take the industry forward into a more mainstream supply approach.

PPAs have been beneficial in the US in allowing renewable generation projects to get capital advances. They have also helped guide Australia through its solar boom in recent years. Another benefit of PPAs from a business perspective is that they receive protection from price fluctuations and market volatility.

New ARENA CEO Darren Miller said that it is necessary to provide ways for councils and businesses to access sustainable energy sources if they so desire. The Business Renewables Centre will help remove any barriers toward this goal.

Miller added: “The future for energy is a large number of smaller renewable generating facilities often developed by non-generating energies.” He said that the Business Renewables Centre can facilitate this change with its expertise in running programs, entrepreneurship, innovation, education and other sustainability areas.

While Miller is confident that this will enable people to enter the sustainable energy marker more easily, UTS Institute of Sustainable Futures Director Prof. Stuart White said that more work is necessary to simplify the use of PPAs. He added that “key decision-makers often lack the information they need.”

White said that the project’s aim is to be “applying a model that’s been successful in the US,” as this will make Australia’s transition run much more smoothly.