27 Jan 2022

DLA Piper signs 'industry first' corporate solar power purchase agreement

Fifteen European and UK offices to source renewable energy from new solar farm

Solar panels Gencho Petkov

DLA Piper has initiated the construction of a UK solar farm by signing a corporate power purchase agreement (PPA) with NextEnergy Group — operator of UK solar investment and asset manager NextEnergy Capital — in a move it claims has made it the first law firm in the world to undertake a PPA. 

Under the agreement, 15 of DLA Piper’s European and UK offices taking part in the project will be supplied with renewable power from the new solar farm. 

The power generated by the farm, set to be built in Somerset, will be equal to or in excess of the direct power requirements of DLA Piper, with any extra environmental credits set to be applied to its value chain to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions of its indirect emissions, the firm said on Thursday. 

The London-based firm characterised the agreement as a ‘major milestone’ in its ongoing push towards decarbonisation, with the agreement set to play a key part in working towards its target of halving its greenhouse gas emissions in absolute terms by 2030. 

“We are the first law firm to enter into a corporate PPA so this project is a true statement of our ambition to be one of the most impactful business law firms for sustainability,” said Natasha Luther-Jones, DLA Piper’s international head of sustainability and ESG and global co-chair of the firm’s energy and natural resources group. 

“The firm has advised on over 1,000 renewable energy deals and projects over the past decade and it has been a real pleasure to apply the expertise that we have gained over this period to our own need to decarbonise,” she noted. 

As the leader of DLA Piper’s practice advising on corporate end-user PPAs, Luther-Jones advised on the UK’s first project-financed non-subsidy onshore wind farm with a PPA in 2018 and acted on AB InBev’s non-subsidy solar deal for the UK the same year, according to her firm profile. 

PPAs have grown in popularity over the last decade as environmental concerns continue to increase across a number of sectors, including banking, oil, retail and IT and telecommunications. The agreements remove roadblocks to the financing and construction of renewable energy facilities, therefore providing certainty for utility companies and developers. 

Ross Greier, UK managing director of NextEnergy Capital, said he believed the corporate PPA market was here to stay. 

“Corporate PPAs will form an important component of the way companies seek to decarbonise over the next decade and it’s a pleasure being at the forefront of this with DLA Piper in the legal sector,” he said. 

Last June, a group of leading UK law firms including Allen & Overy, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, HFW and Simmons & Simmons signed up to the Greener Litigation Pledge, a commitment launched by Mishcon de Reya that commits to lessen the environmental impact of dispute resolution. Linklaters signed up later in the summer.

And in July Ashurst unveiled a series of sustainability goals developed by global sustainability partner Anna-Marie Slot that built on its existing carbon neutrality plan, a roadmap that includes initial reduction goals for 2023. 

 

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