Category Archives: 2019

Target setting – Global and national goals you should be aware of

In part 1 of this blog post series, we investigated what the scope of your climate change target could be. In part 2 of this series on target setting, we will look at the global and national goals that you should be aware of.

Global bodies, countries and states are setting targets that reflect global concerns about climate change. An increasing number of organisations are also setting ambitious targets and seeking to provide leadership.

Global context for action

Internationally, there are three primary drivers for urgent action on climate.

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

In 2015, countries adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Governments, businesses and civil society together with the United Nations are mobilising efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Agenda by 2030[1]. The SDGs came into force on 1 January 2016, and call on action from all countries to end all poverty and promote prosperity while protecting the planet.

Paris Agreement and Science-based targets

To address climate change, signatory countries adopted the Paris Agreement at the COP21 in Paris on 12 December 2015. The Agreement entered into force less than a year later. In the agreement, signatory countries agreed to work to limit global temperature rise to well below 2°C Celsius, and given the grave risks, to strive for 1.5°C Celsius[2].

Targets adopted by organisations to reduce carbon emissions are considered “science-based” if they are in line with what the latest climate science says is necessary to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement—to limit global warming to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursue efforts to limit warming to 1.5°C.

Special IPCC report on 1.5°C warming

In October 2018 in Korea, governments approved the wording of a special report on limiting global warming to 1.5°C. The report indicates that achieving this would require rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society. With clear benefits to people and natural ecosystems, limiting global warming to 1.5°C compared to 2°C could go hand in hand with ensuring a more sustainable and equitable society[3].

GLOBAL CONTEXT FOR ACTION ON CLIMATE
FIGURE 1: GLOBAL CONTEXT FOR ACTION ON CLIMATE

In addition, the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report 2019[4] highlights climate change-related outcomes as among the most likely to occur with the highest impacts to the global economy.

GLOBAL RISKS REPORT – LIKELIHOOD AND IMPACT OF CLIMATE AND OTHER RISKS TO THE GLOBAL ECONOMY
FIGURE 2: GLOBAL RISKS REPORT – LIKELIHOOD AND IMPACT OF CLIMATE AND OTHER RISKS TO THE GLOBAL ECONOMY

National, States and Territories targets

At a national level, Australia’s response to the Paris Agreement has been to set a goal for carbon emissions of 5% below 2000 levels by 2020 and GHG emissions that are 26% to 28% below 2005 levels by 2030. A major policy that currently underpins this is the Renewable Energy Target (RET). This commits Australia to source 20% of its electricity (33,000 GWh p.a., estimated to equate to a real 23% of electricity) from eligible renewable energy sources by 2020. The scheme runs to 2030. These two key targets are illustrated below.

Australia’s renewable energy and carbon goals – National level
Figure 3: Australia’s renewable energy and carbon goals – National level

 

At a sub-national level, most states and territories have established aspirational emissions targets as well as some legislated targets for renewable energy.

AUSTRALIA’S RENEWABLE ENERGY AND CARBON GOALS – STATE & TERRITORY LEVEL
FIGURE 4: AUSTRALIA’S RENEWABLE ENERGY AND CARBON GOALS – STATE & TERRITORY LEVEL

Setting a goal for your organisation

In setting a target for your organisation, you should consider global, national and goals of other companies in your sector. You should also evaluate energy efficiency and renewable energy opportunities in your organisation to know what you can achieve with onsite measures. Offsite measures like procuring renewables or purchasing carbon offsets can help you with achieving more ambitious goals.

In part 3 of this series, we will look at challenges with achieving ambitious targets.

100% Renewables are experts in helping organisations develop their carbon reduction strategy and advising on appropriate goals. If you need help with developing your targets, please contact  Barbara or Patrick.

Feel free to use an excerpt of this blog on your own site, newsletter, blog, etc. Just send us a copy or link and include the following text at the end of the excerpt: “This content is reprinted from 100% Renewables Pty Ltd’s blog.

 

[1] Sourced from https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/development-agenda/

[2] Sourced from https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/climatechange/

[3] Sourced from https://www.ipcc.ch/news_and_events/pr_181008_P48_spm.shtml

[4] https://www.weforum.org/reports/the-global-risks-report-2019

Target setting – What should be the scope of your target?

Setting climate change targets is an important part of developing a renewable energy or carbon reduction strategy for your business. Targets will provide guidance and direction, facilitate proper planning, set employee expectations and will help evaluate your organisational performance against your stated goals.

With a goal, you will let everyone know about where your organisation is headed. With a strategy that supports your targets, you will know how to get there in the most efficient way.

In this blog post, we would like to share a few common questions about the basics of goal setting and about the scope of your target. In the next blog post, we will talk about global, and national goals you should be aware of.

Should you set yourself a target before or after you develop your renewable energy strategy?

In general, we would recommend that you develop your strategy and action plans first to evaluate what level of reduction will be possible with energy efficiency and renewable energy measures. This will tend to lead to targets that are known to be realistic and achievable. However, an ambitious and inspirational target can signal what an organisation values and wants to achieve. It can also motivate to identify and develop the solutions that will lead to the goal.

Should you set yourself a carbon emissions or renewable energy target?

There are many ways targets can be set. In the context of climate change mitigation, the most common targets relate to either carbon emissions or renewable energy.

Carbon reduction targets

Carbon reduction targets can be in absolute or relative terms. For instance, you could set yourself an absolute reduction target of 40% by 2025 from the 2018 baseline. You could also set yourself a relative reduction target, which measures your reduction activities against a figure like your production output, staff numbers, operating hours or square metres. An example would be ‘achieve a 50% reduction of our carbon emissions/FTE by 2023 from our 2016 baseline’.

Renewable energy targets

Renewable energy targets are usually expressed as the percentage of energy you would like to source from renewable energy. For example, you could have a goal for your organisation to be ‘50% renewable by 2025’.

What should you include within the scope of your target?

Renewable energy targets

In the context of a renewable energy goal, you will need to choose whether you will just focus on electricity, whether you would like to include stationary fuels like natural gas, or whether your goal extends to transport energy as well.

WHAT YOU CAN INCLUDE IN A RENEWABLE ENERGY TARGET
FIGURE 1: WHAT YOU CAN INCLUDE IN A RENEWABLE ENERGY TARGET

Carbon emissions targets

In the context of a carbon emissions goal, you will need to think about what kind of emission sources, or what kind of scopes you would like to include.

For instance, you could focus on

  • Carbon emissions directly associated with the burning of fuel and use of electricity (Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions respectively per greenhouse gas accounting).
  • Carbon emissions indirectly associated with fuel and electricity consumption – i.e. upstream extraction, production and transport processes for fuels and electricity (Scope 3 emissions),
  • Carbon emissions associated with the running of your operations such as air travel, employee commute, consumables, catering, emissions from your waste, and other upstream and downstream emissions (Scope 3 emissions).

Factors to consider

When considering what should be included in targets, it is important to consider several factors:

  • Energy that you can influence or control. Typically, stationary electricity is easy to include as solutions are available or near-commercial that can make this a fully renewable supply in a short timeframe – e.g., 5-10 years. However renewable energy fuels for transport are not yet widely available or commercially viable but will be in future.
  • Emissions that you can control or have confidence that they are declining. Waste management, for example, is a complex task, and the ability to set emissions reduction targets may rely on whether or not a waste management strategy is in place or planned. If not, then it may be difficult to set a target that is realistic and achievable.
  • Is an emissions source material or not? For example, LPG consumption may be trivial compared with other sources, so should time and effort be devoted to tracking and managing this source?
  • Your ability to account for all of the sources you may want to track so that you can report on its progress towards reaching goals. Often 80%+ of emissions can be readily accounted for with minimal effort or use of pre-existing systems (from simple spreadsheets to proprietary data collection and reporting systems), whereas the remaining ~20% of emissions can involve significant effort to both establish and then track emissions on an ongoing basis. The National Carbon Offset Standard (NCOS) program is working to make this simpler for organisations to report and offset their carbon impact.
  • Consideration of your overarching purpose in setting goals or targets, such as for
    • internal cost-cutting
    • internal management of emissions
    • to provide guidance and leadership
    • to partner with like-minded organisations to share information and knowledge that is mutually beneficial
    • or all of these

What should be your preferred approach for setting a target?

There is no one preferred approach to selecting what should be included in targets.

In our experience many organisations have

  1. good data and renewables or abatement plans for electricity,
  2. good data but limited plans for reducing transport emissions, and
  3. mixed data and strategic plans including emissions reduction for scope 3 emissions like waste.

This tends to influence what is included in the scope of renewable energy or carbon emissions targets, often starting with a narrow scope of significant sources with an intent to expand the scope of targets.

Other organisations may have excellent data and plans across multiple energy and emissions sources, within their operations and their supply chains, and set the scope of targets accordingly.

100% Renewables are experts in helping organisations develop their carbon reduction strategy and advising on appropriate goals. If you need help with developing your targets, please contact  Barbara or Patrick.

Feel free to use an excerpt of this blog on your own site, newsletter, blog, etc. Just send us a copy or link and include the following text at the end of the excerpt: “This content is reprinted from 100% Renewables Pty Ltd’s blog.

Future policies will affect our carbon emissions – guidance for upcoming federal election

As per the latest IPCC report on climate change, global warming of even 1.5 degrees Celsius can lead to severe consequences, let alone global warming of 2 degrees.

Limiting global warming to 1.5°C will require “rapid and far-reaching” transitions in land, energy, industry, buildings, transport, and cities. Global net human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide will need to fall by about 45% from 2010 levels by 2030, reaching net zero around 2050.

These rapid and far-reaching transitions need to be achieved with the help of individuals, businesses and government.

Australia will elect its leaders in the upcoming May election. Climate change is a decisive factor for many, and so we have summarised the climate change policies of the two major parties.

Australia’s emissions

Before we compare the two parties’ policies on climate change, let’s have a look at Australia’s emission sources first. The single biggest source of our emissions is electricity consumption, followed by transport and agriculture.

Australia’s emissions sources
Figure 1: Australia’s emissions sources

Our commitments under the Paris Agreement

Australia ratified the Paris Agreement on 6 November 2016. Initially, we need to achieve a 26-28% reduction target from 2005 levels by 2030, which is our Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) under the Paris Agreement.

However, it is expected that over time, action is ratcheted up to reach zero net emissions by 2050. This means that we will need to implement stronger emission reduction targets every five years. The first target update is due in 2020.

Australia’s reduction targets
Figure 2: Australia’s reduction targets

Australia also has a target to achieve 20% renewable energy by 2020 (the actual target is 33,000 GWh, which will likely equate to 23.5% renewables).

Will Australia meet its Paris targets?

Since the repeal of Australia’s carbon price in 2014, our emissions have been increasing and are continuing to do so.

In the following graphic, the green line shows the emission reduction we need to achieve by 2030 – to meet the intent of the Paris Agreement.

The dark line shows Australia’s emission over time, including a projection over time to 2030. Under the current policies, Australia is not on track to meet the objectives of the Paris Agreement.

The blue line shows our agreed Paris target of a 26-28% reduction.

Under Liberal policy, the 26-28% reduction will only be nominal, as left-over carbon credits from the previous Kyoto agreement will be used towards the target. This effectively reduces the actual carbon reduction we need to achieve in our economy under their approach.

Labor wants to increase the target to a 45% reduction, which brings us in line with the intent of the Paris Agreement.

Figure 3: Modified graphic from Investor Group on Climate Change via SMH
Figure 3: Modified graphic from Investor Group on Climate Change via SMH

Comparing key climate change policies of the major parties

Government policy is incredibly important in reaching our Paris goals. Governments need to implement policies that are here for the long run, credible and predictable. We compared the major parties policies on the following key climate change areas:

  • Carbon emissions and meeting our Paris targets
  • Energy efficiency
  • Renewable energy
    • Uptake of solar PV for households and businesses, battery energy storage
  • Transport energy
  • Support for hydrogen energy
  • Support the transition to a clean energy economy

The Australian Conservation Foundation, which is Australia’s national environment organisation, scored the Liberal/National Coalition 4 out of 100 on climate change action, and Labor at 56.

Let’s look at the policies of the two parties in these areas.

pdf-icon“Comparing climate change policies of major political parties”
Download the 3-page report here

100% Renewables are experts in helping organisations develop their renewable energy strategies and timing actions appropriately. If you need help with developing emission scenarios that take into account policy settings, please contact  Barbara or Patrick.

Feel free to use an excerpt of this blog on your own site, newsletter, blog, etc. Just send us a copy or link and include the following text at the end of the excerpt: “This content is reprinted from 100% Renewables Pty Ltd’s blog.

How choosing a target influences your emissions over time [with video]

100% RE - emission reduction through 100% renewable energy
100% RE – emission reduction through 100% renewable energy

We recently worked with a regional council to provide their senior management and other key stakeholders with input to the development of their climate change action plan and target-setting process.

An important part of our work was to show council, based on our experience with many other local governments, what different carbon reduction scenarios look like in this sector. In particular, we showed what a no-action scenario would mean for electricity demand, what a focus on demand reduction within council operations would look like, and what an approach that encompasses both aggressive demand reduction and a comprehensive renewable energy supply strategy could achieve.

Presenting and workshopping these scenarios helped our client to set ambitious goals for energy and carbon reduction that are achievable, affordable and can be planned and resourced in the short, medium and long term.

Three scenarios for electricity-based emissions

To illustrate how inaction and action to mitigate climate change can influence emission reductions over time, we created a series of animations. Please click on the video (< 4min) below to view the effect of energy efficiency and renewable energy measures on a council’s business-as-usual electricity consumption.

Scenario 1: no action

For most local councils, rising population, asset upgrades and service improvements are factors that influence the energy demand of council operations.

In the absence of clear policies and practices to reduce energy demand and increase renewables, these factors will lead to increased energy use. As electricity prices also rise, this will result in higher energy costs over time.

Scenario 2: action within council operations

In most organisations, there are numerous opportunities to reduce energy demand and increase onsite renewable energy.

  • Upgrading building lighting systems, air conditioning controls and installing rooftop solar panels usually have an attractive payback.
  • Incorporating lowest life-cycle cost technologies and solar into new developments, and implementing sustainable procurement policies for appliances and office/IT equipment can reduce or reverse energy growth over time.
  • Replacing capital-intensive equipment such as air conditioning systems, water & sewer pumping systems, sporting field lighting and servers with best-practice energy-efficient technologies can similarly reduce or reverse growth in energy demand.
  • Street lighting is often one of the largest energy-using accounts in a local council. As LED technology becomes available, local and main road lighting can be upgraded, leading to large energy savings.

Planning, scheduling and funding implementation of these opportunities over time will lead to a sustained and cost-effective reduction in a council’s grid energy consumption.

However, for most councils, these actions will only take climate mitigation so far, typically a 30% to 40% reduction over time. This would likely fall short of the 2018 IPCC report on ‘Global Warming of 1.5 ºC’, which states that we need to reduce global net anthropogenic CO2 emissions by about 45% from 2010 levels by 2030.

Scenario 3: ambitious action on energy demand and supply

In our experience, it is not possible for a council to achieve deep emissions cuts without focusing on both energy demand and energy supply. In an ‘ambitious action’ plan, there will be a more aggressive rollout of energy efficiency and renewable energy measures, as well as an energy procurement strategy that will source renewable energy for council’s operations.

Energy demand action will:

  • Extend solar PV to more marginal sites,
  • Develop a plan for larger-scale onsite solar with battery storage,
  • Incorporate smart controls with street lighting,
  • Plan for charging of electric vehicles over time, including passenger and commercial vehicles and road plant

Energy supply action will include renewable energy purchasing as part of a council’s normal energy procurement process. Typically, this takes the form of a renewable energy Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) as part of overall energy supply, with the potential to scale up renewable energy purchasing towards 100% over time.

For some councils, building their own solar farm may be another way to scale up supply-side action on renewables.

Ambitious action that focuses on both energy demand and renewable energy supply is aligned with global targets to decarbonise by mid-century. As leaders, local governments have an important role to play in showing their communities that deep cuts in emissions are possible and affordable.

You can read more about achieving ambitious targets in our ‘How to achieve 100% renewable energy’ paper.

Ambitious action is achievable and cost-effective

It is possible to achieve ambitious targets cost-effectively – what is required is to plan and resource ahead, to understand the cost implications as well as the cost savings, and to know what measures can be rolled out at what point in time.

100% Renewables are experts in helping organisations develop their renewable energy strategies and timing actions appropriately. If you need help with setting targets that are achievable and cost-effective, please contact  Barbara or Patrick.

Feel free to use an excerpt of this blog on your own site, newsletter, blog, etc. Just send us a copy or link and include the following text at the end of the excerpt: “This content is reprinted from 100% Renewables Pty Ltd’s blog.

Developing the Climate Change Action Plan for Queanbeyan-Palerang [with video]

100% Renewables ran two community consultation workshops in the Queanbeyan-Palerang area to help Council with the development of the new Climate Change Action Plan. We were engaged by QPRC Council to develop the Action Plan both for council operations, as well as for the community. This blog post contains a video (<2min) with a summary of the workshop in Braidwood.

Development of the Climate Change Action Plan

The new Climate Change Action Plan is informed by science, community input, analysis of council operations and community emissions, as well as previous climate change actions.

Shaping the Community Climate Change Action Plan
Shaping the Community Climate Change Action Plan

Community workshops

At the workshops, we provided the community with background information about the emissions profile of the community (about 1 million tonnes per year), but also about the population growth which will mean that emissions may grow further.

We also pointed the community to ambitious targets by local governments and communities in NSW. We asked the community to recommend targets for carbon emissions and renewable energy, for both the community and council operations.

As part of the workshop, we asked the community to provide input on how carbon emissions can be reduced, across energy, transport, waste, water and the natural environment. We also sought input on climate change adaptation.

Next steps

Our next steps are to take the feedback we received at the two workshops, as well as the survey, and work with Queanbeyan-Palerang Council to develop their Climate Change Action Plan.

100% Renewables are experts in helping organisations develop their renewable energy strategies. If you need help developing yours, please contact  Barbara or Patrick.

Feel free to use an excerpt of this blog on your own site, newsletter, blog, etc. Just send us a copy or link and include the following text at the end of the excerpt: “This content is reprinted from 100% Renewables Pty Ltd’s blog.

Carbon accounting for the energy use of streetlighting

This blog post is relevant for Councils who want to make sure they are reporting the energy consumption of streetlights in their Local Government Area under the right carbon accounting scope.

This blog post assumes prior knowledge of carbon accounting. If you would like to find out more about how to develop carbon inventories, we highly recommend you download the GHG Protocol Corporate Accounting Standard, or talk to us about developing your carbon footprint.

The energy consumption of street lighting

Streetlighting is usually owned by network operators and is mostly unmetered. The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) maintains the “National Electricity Market Load Tables for Unmetered Connection Points”, including street lighting. The NEM load tables list all tested street lighting devices, including their full wattage as tested in each state and territory in the NEM.

For every Local Government Area, network operators apply hours of operation (typically dusk to dawn) to the NEM load table wattage for all installed unmetered street lights to determine monthly electricity consumption.

Where street lighting is metered the Council will simply receive electricity bills that record the actual electricity consumed in each billing period.

The higher the power rating of a particular luminaire, the higher the energy consumption and the related charges. This is why it makes sense for Councils to consider bulk upgrades to LED lighting.

The carbon footprint of street lighting

Street lighting makes up a significant proportion of a Council’s carbon footprint, especially in metropolitan areas, where there are many streetlights. Upgrading to LED lighting makes sense from a financial perspective, but it also significantly lowers the carbon footprint of street lighting.

The carbon footprint of street lighting is made up of the energy consumption of the street lighting, as well as the transmission and distribution (T&D) losses in getting the energy from the power generators to the luminaires.

Accounting for street lighting from the network operator’s perspective

The energy consumption of the streetlights is classified as ‘Scope 2’ from the network operator’s perspective. The T&D losses are also classified as ‘Scope 2’ from the network operator’s perspective, as the network ‘consumes’ the electricity.

Accounting for street lighting from a council’s perspective

Under standard carbon accounting rules, one could assume that a council should classify street lighting as a Scope 3 emissions source to avoid double counting.

However, it depends on what approach is used to consolidate carbon emissions. According to the GHG Protocol Corporate Accounting Standard, there are two approaches: the equity share and the control approaches.

Under the equity share approach, a council would report street lighting under Scope 3 if the network operator owns the street lights.

However, if a council is using an ‘operational control’ approach in their carbon accounting, it comes down to the question of what entity has the ‘operational control’.

The answer to this question determines whether a council would classify the energy consumption of streetlights as a ‘Scope 2’, or as a ‘Scope 3’ emission.

Some councils believe that the network operator has control. Others view that council has operational control, for the following reasons:

  • council pays for the asset through amortisation of the capital expenditure and for O&M expenses including electricity, and
  • council can decide whether they want a lighting upgrade or not.

Examples of how councils report their street lighting energy use

The following table shows a small selection of councils and how they account for the electricity consumption of street lighting.

CouncilScope classification of energy consumption of street lighting
Brisbane City CouncilScope 2 for Council-controlled streetlights
Scope 3 for third-party controlled streetlights
City of SydneyScope 2 (network-owned streetlighting deemed to be within the City’s financial control)
City of YarraScope 3
Moreland City CouncilScope 3
Randwick City CouncilScope 3

Under what scope should a council report its street lighting energy use?

Operational control is the most important consideration, but there are others you should be aware of. We have developed the following table which can help you make the right decision.

PreferenceResultant scope for the energy consumption of street lighting
Council deems street lighting to be under its operational controlScope 2
Council deems street lighting to be under the operational control of the network providerScope 3
Council wants to avoid double counting of emissionsScope 3
Council wants to report an NGER-compliant carbon footprint which includes street lighting (noting this may result in double counting)Scope 2
Council has a carbon reduction goal for scope 1 and 2 and is upgrading to LED street lightingScope 2 (to capture the emissions reduction)
Council has a carbon reduction goal for scope 1, 2 and 3 and is upgrading to LED street lightingScope 2 or Scope 3, depending on operational control

Example of how you would account for street-lighting

To show the implications of these decisions on how you actually calculate the carbon emissions, we are providing an example which is based on the emissions factor for NSW (July 2018 NGA factors).

Emission sourceScopeEmissions factor in t of CO2-e per MWh
Energy consumption20.82
T&D losses30.10
Total lifecycle emissions2 and 30.92

Based on these emission factors, the following graphic shows two scenarios. Option 1 classifies street lighting as Scope 2, and option 2 classifies it as Scope 3.

Options to account for street lighting in your carbon inventory
Options to account for street lighting in your carbon inventory

Under Option 1, where you classify streetlighting as Scope 2, you would account for the energy consumption of your streetlights as Scope 2, and for the T&D losses as Scope 3.

Under Option 2, where you classify streetlighting as Scope 3, you would account for both the energy consumption and T&D losses under Scope 3.

So under what scope should you report your street-lighting consumption?

First, determine your preferences and reporting needs as per table 2 above. Then adjust your carbon accounting accordingly. Please bear in mind that the carbon accounting software package you might be using may have a fixed Scope classification and may not provide you with a choice.

Carbon accounting can be complex, and it pays to get the help of experts. If you need help, please contact Barbara or Patrick.

Feel free to use an excerpt of this blog on your own site, newsletter, blog, etc. Just send us a copy or link and include the following text at the end of the excerpt: “This content is reprinted from 100% Renewables Pty Ltd’s blog.

The beginner’s video guide to assessing the value of buying or building your own renewables

One of our clients recently went to market via an Expression of Interest (EOI) to solicit interest from firms and potential partners with building or sourcing large-volume renewable energy to meet a significant fraction of their electricity demand.

We were contracted to review the responses to the organisation’s EOI and provide our recommendations about sourcing large-volume renewables. The requested interest was for two technical options, to build a solar farm on the organisation’s land, or to purchase renewable electricity from other projects – for example from utility-scale wind and solar projects elsewhere in the National Electricity Market.

Energy markets and evaluating EOI responses is complex, so for our final presentation, we were asked to also cover some of the basics to allow the leadership team to understand how we arrived at our recommendations.

When we created the slide deck for this presentation, we thought about how we could best present the underlying information. Pictures say more than words, so we decided to use animations to

  1. explain the fundamentals of the electricity supply chain,
  2. the components of your electricity bill, and the
  3. difference between installing solar behind your meter versus building a large-scale solar farm, versus sourcing renewables from an offsite project.

You can watch the video with our animations here:

If you need help with going to market or with evaluating responses to your EOI, RFT or RFP,  please contact Barbara or Patrick.

Feel free to use an excerpt of this blog on your own site, newsletter, blog, etc. Just send us a copy or link and include the following text at the end of the excerpt: “This content is reprinted from 100% Renewables Pty Ltd’s blog.

Claiming ‘zero emissions’ for the operation of your EVs [Part 3]

In our first blog post on electric vehicles, we analysed the carbon footprint of electric vehicles. In the second blog post of the series, we present three considerations for making zero-emissions claims for your electric vehicles. In the final blog post of this series, we are investigating ways you can safely claim ’zero emissions’ for the operation of your EVs.

There are many ways to ’green’ the energy supplied to charge your EVs at your own business premises. However, what if you charge your vehicles at shopping centres, other businesses, at home, on a freeway, or other locations? If seeking to use renewable energy or be ’zero emissions’ for your EV fleet, your strategy should include both ’onsite’ and ’offsite’ charging plans.

Claiming ‘zero emissions’ for the operation of your EVs

Strategies for claiming ’zero emissions’ when charging EVs at your business premises (‘onsite’)

The good news about charging EVs at your own locations is that you have complete control over the emissions-intensity of the electricity powering your charging stations. There are five basic options you can consider:

  1. Buy 100% GreenPower® for charge points
  2. Corporate Power Purchase Agreement
  3. Become carbon neutral
  4. Switch to carbon neutral electricity
  5. Solar panels (and batteries)

Strategy #1 – Buy 100% GreenPower®

An easy way to charge your electric car from clean energy is to purchase 100% GreenPower® for the account the charging point is connected to. All you would need to do is call your electricity provider and ask to be switched over to their 100% GreenPower® product.

For more information, please read the GreenPower for Businesses Guide that we developed for the National GreenPower Accreditation Scheme.

Strategy #2 – Corporate Power Purchase Agreement for renewables

If you are a large energy user, you could enter into a corporate Power Purchase Agreement and include sites/accounts that power your EV charging point(s).

You could either enter into a bundled PPA agreement where you purchase both the electricity and the green credentials (RECs/LGCs) or into an LGC-only PPA.

If corporate PPAs do not suit your circumstances, you can also buy LGCs directly from brokers, with 1 REC/LGC purchased and retired for each MWh of electricity consumed for your EVs or facilities including EV charging points. While this is a potentially more expensive strategy than strategy 3 or 4 (below), you can claim both ‘zero emissions’ and ‘fully renewable’ for your electric vehicles.

For further information for different PPA options, you can read our article on how you can make your organisation 100% renewable or our introduction to PPAs.

Strategy #3 – Carbon neutrality

If your organisation is carbon neutral, then your EV charging points would be included in your carbon footprint. You may pursue carbon neutrality for stand-alone buildings or events, and where EV charging forms part of the scope of these activities, then it can also be carbon neutral. You may simply wish to be carbon neutral for your EV charging stations if these have separate metering or sub-metering.  If this is data is not available, then you can get this information from your EVs, as most have the capability to track their energy consumption.

The basics steps for becoming carbon neutral are to measure your carbon footprint, reduce it as much as possible and offset the rest through the purchase of carbon credits. Australian organisations can consider becoming carbon neutral under the National Carbon Offset Standard (NCOS), or you may simply purchase offsets for emissions within the boundaries of your carbon neutrality claim.

Strategy #4 – Switch to carbon neutral electricity

There are currently three electricity providers in Australia that offer carbon-neutral electricity, Powershop, Energy Australia and Energy Locals. You could consider switching suppliers and selecting their carbon neutral products. You can find more information in our article about 10 ways to green your electricity supply.

You need to make sure that the charging point is connected to the account that you are switching over to carbon-neutral electricity.

Strategy #5 – Charging EVs from solar panels

Organisations are starting to put EV charging stations at locations where they also have solar PV installations. One of the first Australian examples is the Macadamia Castle on NSW’s Far North Coast which in 2014 installed a 45 kW solar system on its car park canopy. The solar installation powers both the main building and the EV charging station.

If your business is considering using solar to power electric vehicles, note that you are likely to also use grid power to supplement solar energy, so you should not simply assume that all charging from a solar array is ’green’. If at any point the power output from your solar array is less than the power draw to charge the vehicles, then you will be using grid energy to achieve the shortfall. There are chargers that will only use onsite solar generation to charge EVs, and have settings to slow or stop charging when there is insufficient solar power available (e.g. Zappi).

You could install batteries as well which could increase the amount of onsite solar electricity that charges the vehicles, though this technology is expensive at this time. Australian startup Chargefox, whose vision is that road transport will eventually be powered by renewable energy, is rolling out super-fast chargers for electric cars. The Chargefox network will feature sites powered by the world’s first solar, battery storage and 350kW charging combination.

Depending on the size of your solar system and the energy demand from cars or other equipment/facilities connected to the solar, you may achieve a ’net zero’ result, where you generate more solar energy than is consumed by connected equipment and vehicles over a set period of time.

Where there is a shortfall between electricity produced onsite and electricity consumed to power EVs, your business can use one or more of the above strategies to achieve zero emissions.

Note:

You can also use strategies #1, #2 and #5 for claims for ‘100% renewable’. You can find out more information about the difference between carbon neutral and 100% renewable in this article.

Claiming ’zero emissions’ when charging EVs at other locations (‘offsite’)

Your EVs may need to charge at locations outside your business premises. These could include charging stations on freeways or main roads, in shopping centres and public carparks, at clients’ premises, at schools, hospitals, hotels, and at home.

Unlike petrol and diesel fleet fuel consumption, which most organisations measure through fuel card systems, electric vehicle charging is far more distributed with varying availability of data.

The two key pieces of information your business needs to make credible ’zero emissions’ claims for your EV fleet charged ’offsite’ are energy consumption, and the sources of energy generation.

Measuring energy consumption

Most EVs have the capability to track their energy consumption, and if you know how much energy went into charging from onsite locations, you may be able to derive the energy consumed from offsite locations.

Another method is to estimate the energy consumption of your EVs based on kilometres travelled and applying known or estimated energy intensity – most EVs travel 3 km to 7 km per kWh of electricity consumed. Refer to information provided by the vehicle manufacturer to estimate consumption from your particular model.

 

Also, if you are charging and paying for power from the emerging and growing network of EV charging stations and management systems like Charge Star, ChargePoint, Tritium, or NRMA, energy consumption and cost data will become increasingly available to users and enable better reporting of EV energy demand.

Nonetheless, it is likely that the source of some of your offsite EV energy use will be unknown, and to support credible emissions/clean energy claims it may be necessary to make reasonable estimates of energy use.

Greening your offsite EV electricity use

Even if you estimate or calculate your EV energy consumption from external charging, do you know if the electricity came from a renewable energy source or just from the mix of generation in the grid?

For example, Tesla has a global policy that where possible they will use 100% renewable power for their supercharger installations, but this will likely happen over time and may not apply to all chargers at this time.

The charging stations of Queensland’s Electric Super Highway (for travel between Cairns and Coolangatta) use green energy either through direct green energy credits or offsets.

Similarly, if you are charging at another business that sources all or most of its electricity from renewables via rooftop and/or corporate PPAs (e.g. RE100 companies such as IKEA, CBA, Mars and PwC), then its source may be partially or wholly renewable.

Even at your employees’ homes electricity for charging may come from both grid and rooftop solar, or employees may purchase GreenPower® or carbon-neutral electricity. In short, it is currently very difficult to apportion the kind of energy that is being used to charge vehicles offsite.

Apply a cautious approach

Offsite charging presents challenges when you are looking to support claims for ’zero emissions’ for your EV fleet. A cautious approach would use one of the methods outlined above to offset emissions for all of your estimated electricity consumption.

100% Renewables can help with evaluating these options for you. Please contact Barbara or Patrick for further information.

Feel free to use an excerpt of this blog on your own site, newsletter, blog, etc. Just send us a copy or link and include the following text at the end of the excerpt: “This content is reprinted from 100% Renewables Pty Ltd’s blog.

Three considerations if making ‘zero emissions’ claims for your electric vehicles [Part 2]

Zero emissions for your electric vehicle
Zero emissions for your electric vehicle

In our previous blog post, we analysed the carbon footprint of electric vehicles. We distinguished between manufacturing emissions, emissions during the operations of the electric vehicle and emissions at the end-of-life. In this blog post, we will present three considerations for making zero-emissions claims for your electric vehicles.

Introduction

With increasing choices of electric vehicles and prices decreasing, more organisations are considering buying or have already purchased electric vehicles. By switching your passenger fleet to electric vehicles, you have the potential to contribute to a reduction in transport emissions, with passenger vehicles making up 8% of Australia’s total greenhouse gas emissions.

We sometimes hear the claim that electric vehicles are ‘emissions-free’, or ‘zero emissions’, but this is not necessarily the case. In this blog post, we look at some things to consider if you are looking to make this claim in your communication materials.

Three considerations for ‘zero-emissions’ claims

With all the good environmental work you are undertaking, it is important to make the right claims about your efforts. Failing to do so may cause reputational damage. The most notable recent example was, of course, Volkswagen in 2015 with the ‘dieselgate’ scandal, which led to vehicle recalls, fines, loss of reputation and the resignation of senior executives.

What this means for your organisation is that you need to be careful about your environmental claims – the more precise your claims, the lower your reputational risk.

Consideration #1 – Thinking that because it is an electric vehicle, it will be ‘clean’

If you have purchased or are considering purchasing electric vehicles for your organisation’s fleet, you are reducing petroleum emissions. However, it is quite possible that you will charge your electric vehicles from the grid. As we discussed in our previous EV article, the grid is a mixture of fossil fuels and renewables. Whether this mix leans more towards renewable energy depends on what state you are charging your EV in.

Electric cars are only as clean as their energy supply. To make sure you are not replacing oil with coal and gas, you need to make a conscious choice to change the source of energy to emissions-free electricity.

Our next blog post will show you how you can change to emissions-free electricity.

Consideration #2 – Emissions from the manufacturing of electric vehicles

A common counterclaim to the view that electric vehicles are clean or will reduce emissions is that higher greenhouse gas emissions are created during the manufacture of electric vehicles, mainly due to the batteries that are being used.

For buyers of electric vehicles, one thing this highlights is the importance of clearly defining your claim – i.e. limiting claims to operational emissions rather than leaving claims open for others to query or challenge in this way.

In relation to embedded emissions, some car manufacturers have started to address this problem by changing the production of electric vehicles towards being carbon neutral and 100% renewable.

For example, Volkswagen has plans to make the production of its upcoming I.D. Neo hatchback carbon neutral to save one million tonnes of carbon emissions per year. They are targeting a carbon reduction across the whole lifecycle, including the sourcing of raw materials and batteries, to recycling at the end of life.

Because of the 2015 scandal, VW is also making sure that over the coming years its suppliers use renewable energy where possible to make their claim as credible as possible. To get the carbon footprint to zero, VW will purchase carbon offsets.

Another example is BMW i’s manufacturing plant in Leipzig, which is powered from 100% renewables. Daimler plans that from 2022, all its Mercedes-Benz manufacturing plants will be 100% renewable.

If your business is looking to purchase electric vehicles it is recommended you consider the upstream emissions embedded in the vehicle manufacture, and not just whether they will be powered with renewable energy during their use phase.

Consideration #3 – Extended reporting of the carbon footprint of electric vehicles in future

When organisations first started to report under Australia’s National Carbon Offset Standard (NCOS), it was enough to report on Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions and to include a limited set of supply chain emissions from waste, paper consumption and air travel. Over time, the acceptable boundary for Scope 3 emissions has shifted to include more embedded emission sources, like IT equipment, food and catering, telecommunications, advertising, cleaning services, legal fees or stationery.

While currently, it is a requirement to only report on the operational emissions of vehicles, in future you may be required to report on embedded emissions as well.

What claims CAN you make?

This blog post looked at things you should consider when making environmental claims about your electric vehicle. In the next blog post, we will be looking at how you can safely claim ‘zero emissions’ for the operations of your electric vehicles without incurring the risk of misleading the market.

If you need help with how your EV strategy fits in with your organisation’s energy strategy, please talk to  Barbara or Patrick.

Feel free to use an excerpt of this blog on your own site, newsletter, blog, etc. Just send us a copy or link and include the following text at the end of the excerpt: “This content is reprinted from 100% Renewables Pty Ltd’s blog.”

Appendix: Emissions from Australia’s transport sector

As per the Quarterly Update of Australia’s National Greenhouse Gas Inventory: June 2018, in FY17/18, we emitted 555.4 million tonnes of carbon emissions in Australia, excluding LULUCF[1]. Of these, electricity production is responsible for 33% of our emissions, while the transport sector is responsible for 18%.

Breaking down the transport sector emissions further, we can see that cars are responsible for 8% of our overall emissions. This may not sound much, but emissions are four times larger than those from domestic aviation, and emissions from the transport sector are growing fast.

Australia's transport emissions
Australia’s transport emissions

By converting our existing car fleet to electric vehicle and running them on 100% renewable energy, we have the potential to eliminate 8% or roughly 46 million tonnes from our emissions inventory. By converting light commercial vehicles and buses to electric, we could save even more.

[1] Land use, land-use change, and forestry (LULUCF) is defined by the United Nations Climate Change Secretariat as a ‘greenhouse gas inventory sector that covers emissions and removals of greenhouse gases resulting from direct human-induced land use such as settlements and commercial uses, land-use change, and forestry activities.’

The carbon footprint of electric vehicles [embedded, operational and end-of-life emissions] [Part 1]

Many of our clients are considering the purchase of electric vehicles, either as a trial or for replacing part or even all of their existing light fleet. Electric vehicles are touted as one of the solutions to our climate crisis, but are they really emissions free? To analyse this question, we are publishing three blog posts. The first (this one), will focus on the carbon footprint of electric vehicles.

The second article will discuss three considerations when making a ‘zero emissions’ claim for your electric vehicles. The third article in the series will show you strategies for ‘zero emissions’ claims both for ‘onsite and offsite’ charging.

The difference between embedded, operational and end-of-life carbon emissions

Have a look at the following graphic. The emissions are split into embedded, operational and end-of-life emissions – three stages, which roughly follow the lifecycle of a car.

The carbon footprint of Electric Vehicles
The carbon footprint of electric vehicles

1 Embedded carbon emissions in cars

Every human-made object, like a book, clothing, or a car has embedded carbon emissions. Most objects consist of multiple materials that must be obtained from nature, usually from mining.

For a car, you need to mine oil to obtain plastic. You also need to mine other materials like metals. Mining is usually done by burning a lot of diesel.

The constituent materials are then processed and transported (using a lot of diesel) to a factory where the car is put together.

The carbon emissions during the manufacturing process depend on the energy sources that are being used and the energy mix of the grid of the country, area or facility in which the car is produced. The greener the energy that is being used, the fewer emissions in the production process. Ideally, the energy used would be renewable.

From the manufacturing plant, the car needs to be transported to distribution centres, then shipped, then further transported until it ends up in your hands. These upstream transport activities are based on burning diesel.

All processes, from mining to when you use the car, cause carbon emissions – together, these are called ‘embedded’ or ‘embodied’ emissions. From a carbon accounting perspective, embedded emissions are classified as Scope 3.

Both electric vehicles (EVs) and vehicles based on an internal combustion engine (ICE) have embedded emissions. These embedded emissions vary, depending to a large part on where the car is produced, and the source of the energy.

There may be extra emissions involved for the materials and fabrication of lithium-ion batteries; on the other hand, there is no internal combustion engine to produce. If there are extra emissions from the production of electric vehicles, then these are easily offset by the reduced emissions while driving.

2 Operational carbon emissions when driving cars

Operational emissions are generated during the operation of an asset. In the case of a coal-fired power plant, for instance, operational carbon emissions are mostly carbon dioxide, and to a lesser extent nitrous oxide and methane.

In the case of a vehicle with an internal combustion engine (ICE) based on fossil fuels, operational carbon emissions are what come out of the tailpipe. Like with a coal-fired power plant, greenhouse gas emissions are mostly carbon dioxide, and to a lesser extent nitrous oxide and methane. However, emissions from ICE cars also include Nitrogen oxides (NOx), Particulate Matter (PM10) and Carbon Monoxide (CO) which cause air pollution.

In the case of an electric vehicle, no emissions are coming out of the tailpipe – EVs don’t even have tailpipes! This means that from a carbon accounting perspective, there are no Scope 1 emissions.

However, just like ICE cars, the electric vehicle must be supplied with energy in order to run. The amount of operational carbon emissions depends on the source of the energy going into the electric vehicle.

The source of the electricity determines how cleanly your electric vehicles run

If your electric vehicles are charged from the grid, it depends on the ‘greenness’ of the grid as to how cleanly your cars are powered. In a country (or a state) that is mostly supplied from renewables, the energy source is cleaner than if the electricity is produced by burning coal and natural gas.

For instance, an electric car charged in Costa Rica or Iceland, where practically all electricity is being produced from renewables, is emissions-free from a Scope 2 perspective. In Australia, where about 80% of our electricity comes from fossil fuel sources, it is not as clean to run your electric vehicle.

Having said that, if you charge your car in the Australian Capital Territory, Tasmania or South Australia, your cars will run very cleanly.

For more information on greening your EV’s electricity use, please read part 3 of this blog post series.

3 End-of-life carbon emissions

Every asset has its lifetime, and there are emissions associated when a car ends up being scrap metal. Greenhouse gas emissions at the end of life are similar between ICE cars and EVs, with the only difference being the EV battery.

Batteries are troublesome from an environmental perspective, but as technology progresses, EV batteries will last longer. It is also possible to recycle EV batteries and use them for stationary purposes, like battery storage in a home, or indeed for EV charging stations.

An example of an Australia-based company that can recycle lithium batteries is Envirostream. They are able to recycle over 98% of the product and are branching out to PV recycling.

What you need to consider when claiming zero emissions for your electric vehicles

Stay tuned, for in our next blog post we will look at considerations when making claims around the ‘greenness’ of electric vehicles.

100% Renewables are experts in energy and carbon strategies. If you need help with your strategy, please contact Barbara or Patrick.

Feel free to use an excerpt of this blog on your own site, newsletter, blog, etc. Just send us a copy or link and include the following text at the end of the excerpt: “This content is reprinted from 100% Renewables Pty Ltd’s blog.