Category Archives: 2021

What you need to know about the new Climate Active electricity carbon accounting rules

Are your electricity-based emissions zero because your business is based in the Australian Capital Territory, which buys 100% renewable electricity? Can you deduct the export from your 150 kW system from your electricity emissions? Can you claim the renewable energy proportion of your grid supply? Is the electricity that is being generated from your 99 kW solar system emissions-free, even though you availed yourself of the STC discount? Are your emissions from electricity zero because you just entered into a 100% renewable energy Power Purchase Agreement? Can you deduct GreenPower® purchases from your electricity emissions?

While there are no clear frameworks (other than the GHG Protocol) on how to properly account for electricity-based emissions and their reductions in some countries, we are in a much better position in Australia.

Here, we have the mandatory Renewable Energy Target, which provides the framework for Renewable Energy Certificate creation, and we have a mandatory (NGER) and voluntary (Climate Active) reporting system for emissions.

Climate Active has recently released guidance on how to account for electricity-based emissions and reduction measures, allowing you to get recognition for your renewable energy projects.

The Clean Energy Regulator, which administers the NGER system, is also consulting on the design of a new Corporate Emissions Reduction Transparency report (CERT). If you are a large emitter reporting under NGER, you will be able to show how you are meeting your emissions reduction goals.

Let’s have a look at the new Climate Active rules for accounting for electricity emissions and reduction measures.

New Climate Active rules for carbon accounting for electricity

The Climate Active team recently released a set of rules which are based on best-practice principles in the Greenhouse Gas Protocol Scope 2 Guidance and stakeholder consultation. The new framework applies to annual Climate Active reports from calendar year 2021 and financial year 2020/21 onwards.

One of the most significant changes is that you now need to report both your location and market-based electricity emissions, which is called ‘dual reporting’. If you are reporting under CDP, you will be familiar with this concept.

You must use dual reporting for Climate Active organisation, simple service, building, precinct and event certifications, while you can choose to use a dual reporting method for  product and complex service certifications. You can select either the location- or market-based approach as the primary electricity accounting method, which will determine the number of offsets required to go carbon neutral under Climate Active.

Location- and market-based approach to accounting for electricity emissions

In carbon accounting, one of the most important and largest sources of emissions is the consumption of electricity, which is accounted for under scope 2.

According to the Scope 2 Guidance of the GHG Protocol, there are two distinct methods for scope 2 accounting, which are both useful for different purposes. The methods used to calculate and report scope 2 emissions impact how a company assesses its performance and what mitigation actions are incentivised. When used together, they can provide a fuller documentation and assessment of risks, opportunities and changes to emissions from electricity consumption over time.

The location-based method

This method reflects the average emissions intensity of the grid, based on your company’s location. This method allows you to calculate emissions that you are physically emitting to the atmosphere. So, if your business is located in the ACT, which is 100% renewable, you will still have to apply the NSW grid’s emissions factor, as you are getting your electricity from NSW power plants. The location-based method does not allow for any claims of renewable electricity from grid-imported electricity use.

The only way you can reduce electricity emissions using the location-based method is to site your business in an area where the electricity from the grid has lower emissions (e.g. Tasmania, or New Zealand), to reduce your electricity consumption, or to install behind-the-meter renewable energy systems. Buying renewables will not be recognised under the location-based method.

The market-based method

The market-based method reflects the emissions that you are responsible for from the electricity you purchase, which may be different from the electricity that is generated locally. This method derives emission factors from contractual instruments, such as the purchase of GreenPower®, RECs/LGCs, or bundled renewable energy power purchase agreements. It uses a ‘residual mix factor’ (RMF) to allow for unique claims on the zero-emissions attribute of renewables without double-counting.

Under the market-based approach, you can reduce your electricity-based emissions by being more energy-efficient, by installing onsite renewables and shifting your electricity supply to renewables.

You can choose which method total – market-based, location-based or both—to use for performance tracking and must disclose this in your inventory.

The following sections go through the details of how to treat onsite generation, the export of renewables, the treatment of renewable energy certificates, the purchase of renewables and carbon-neutral electricity.

Treatment of Renewable Energy Certificates

Renewable Energy Certificates consist of Large-scale Generation Certificates (LGCs), from solar PV systems greater than 100 kW, and Small Technology Certificates (STCs), from small-scale solar PV systems of less than 100 kW.

One renewable energy certificate equates 1 MWh of renewable energy generation. You can find more information about these certificates in this blog post.

You can use LGCs to reduce reported electricity emissions under the market-based method, but not STCs.

Market-based method

  • You can use LGCs as a unique claim on the zero-emissions attribute of renewable generation within a Climate Active carbon account (meaning you can deduct retired LGCs from your electricity emissions).
  • You can only use LGCs to account for electricity-based emissions, e.g. direct grid-based electricity (scope 2) or indirect emissions sources (scope 3) consisting entirely of electricity, such as third-party operated data centres, or streetlighting.
  • You must retire LGCs on the Renewable Energy Certificate Registry, with evidence of their retirement, including serial numbers, provided to Climate Active.
  • You should directly retire LGCs in the name of the claimant, for example, ‘Retired on behalf of Company X for 2020 Climate Active carbon-neutral claim’.
  • You may retire LGCs indirectly on behalf of the claimant, for example, by GreenPower®. You should provide serial numbers to Climate Active.
  • In instances where you cannot provide discrete LGC serial numbers, Climate Active may consider accepting other evidence that LGCs have been retired, for example, certificates provided by an electricity generator or electricity bills listing accredited GreenPower® usage.
  • LGCs must have an issuance date of less than 36 months from the end of the reporting year; for example, a calendar year 2020 report (ending 31 December 2020) could use LGCs with an issuance date of no earlier than 1 January 2018.
  • You cannot use STCs to make renewable energy emission reduction claims for grid imported electricity consumption.

Location-based method

  • Neither LGCs nor STCs can be used to make renewable energy emission reduction claims for grid-imported electricity consumption.

Renewable Energy Target

The Renewable Energy Target (RET) is a legislated scheme designed to reduce emissions from the electricity sector and incentivise additional electricity generation from sustainable and renewable sources. The RET consists of two different schemes: the large-scale renewable energy target (LRET) and the small-scale renewable energy scheme (SRES). Your can account for your investments in the LRET under the market-based method.

Market-based method

  • The percentage of electricity consumption attributable to the LRET, as reflected by the Renewable Power Percentage, for a given reporting year, is assigned an emission factor of zero in the carbon account. For example, a business using a total of 1,000 MWh of electricity in 2019, lists 186 MWh as zero emissions (1,000*18.6% (RPP for 2019)).
  • This deduction is not available to you if you are exempt from the LRET (i.e. Emissions Intensive Trade Exposed Industries).

Location-based method

  • There is no separate accounting treatment for the LRET as it is already included in the state emissions factors.

GreenPower®

GreenPower® is an easy way to switch your electricity supply to renewables that are additional to the Renewable Energy Target. If you need more information on how GreenPower® works, please read the GreenPower Guide for Businesses we developed for the GreenPower® program.

You can also obtain accredited GreenPower® under your renewable energy PPA. For more information, please read our GreenPower® PPA blog post.

You can account for your GreenPower® purchases using the market-based method.

Market-based method

  • Accredited GreenPower® usage is assigned an emission factor of zero in your carbon account, regardless of the state in which you are using GreenPower®.
  • GreenPower® use in excess of what is required to account for your direct electricity usage may be used to reduce your other indirect entirely electricity-based emissions (e.g., data centre usage, streetlighting).
  • GreenPower® use in excess to what is required to account for your entire electricity usage cannot be used to offset other non-electricity emission sources in your carbon account (such as, for instance, emissions from your fleet).

Location-based method

  • You cannot use GreenPower® purchases to make zero-emission electricity claims under the location-based method.

Renewable energy Power Purchase Agreements

Renewable energy Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) are a great way to cost-effectively increase the renewables proportion of your electricity supply. They also allow you to switch your entire electricity to 100% renewables, thus bringing your electricity-based emissions to zero. However, just like with LGCs described above, you need to retire LGCs associated with your PPA to be able to claim the emissions reduction and renewable energy generation.

Market-based method

  • You need to retire LGCs above any mandatory LRET obligations to claim zero emissions for your electricity consumption.
  • Where you cannot be listed on the REC Registry, you need to supply other evidence to the Climate Active team from the retiring body, such as certificates from the electricity provider.
  • You cannot use supplier-specific emissions factors.

Location-based method

  • You cannot use retired LGCs, including under PPAs, to make zero-emissions claims under the location-based method.

Local renewable energy generation

One of the best ways to reduce electricity consumption other than reducing your consumption is to install solar panels or other renewable energy generation systems where your circumstances allow it. If you directly consume electricity from a renewable energy system, it is called a ‘behind the meter’ system.

You can account for behind-the-meter use of renewable generation systems under both the location- and the market-based method. However, you can only account for exported electricity under the market-based method.

Market-based method

  • Behind-the-meter use of electricity from large scale systems may be reported and assigned an emissions factor of zero in your carbon account, only if you retire any LGCs associated with that generation or not create any. An example of when you don’t create any LGCs is when you install a large-scale system, and you choose not to generate any LGCs.
  • If you are creating and selling LGCs, you must treat behind-the-meter usage from large-scale systems the same as electricity consumption from the grid (that is, treated as residual electricity).
  • You may report and assign behind-the-meter use of electricity from small-scale systems an emissions factor of zero in your carbon account, regardless of whether you have created, transferred or sold any STCs associated with this generation.
  • You need to convert exported electricity from renewable systems into an emissions reduction equivalent and net from gross emissions. You can achieve this by multiplying exported electricity by the national scope 2 electricity factor only (to account for transmission losses) for the year of the generation. You must retire any LGCs or not create any. You don’t need to retire any STCs associated with this generation.

Location-based method

  • You may report behind-the-meter use of electricity from large scale systems as zero emissions in your carbon account, provided you retired any LGCs associated with that generation or did not create any.
  • If you create and sell LGCs, you must treat behind-the-meter use from large scale systems the same as electricity consumption from the grid.
  • You may report behind-the-meter use of electricity from small-scale systems as zero emissions in your carbon account, regardless of whether you have created, transferred or sold any STCs associated with this generation.
  • Under the location-based method, you can’t use exported electricity as a reduction in electricity emissions.

Jurisdictional renewable energy targets

Market-based method

  • If you are operating in a jurisdiction where the government retires LGCs (such as, for instance, in the ACT), you can claim the corresponding percentage of emissions impact on your electricity consumption as zero, provided that the LGCs are retired on behalf of the jurisdictions’ citizens and the claim is auditable for the given reporting year.

Location-based method

  • There is no separate accounting treatment, as the emissions benefit is already included in the state factors used to convert electricity consumption into its emissions equivalent.

Climate Active certified carbon-neutral electricity

Market-based method

  • You can convert Climate Active certified carbon neutral electricity into its emissions equivalent and deduct it from the gross carbon account offset liability.
  • You can convert by applying the relevant emission factor for the particular brand of carbon-neutral power.

Location-based method

  • Same rules

Grid-imported (residual) electricity

Market-based method

  • You need to convert electricity usage not matched by zero-emissions electricity attribute claims (residual electricity) into t CO2-e using the RMF according to the below formula: RMF = National EF / (1 – RPP) RMF (residual mix factor), EF (emission factor), RPP (renewable power percentage), e.g. in 2019, the RMF equals: = 0.88 (national scope 2 and 3 EF)/ 0.814 (18.6% RPP) = 1.08 Financial year reports will use the average of the RMF across the relevant calendar years, reflecting the RPP of each 6-month period. While this sounds complicated, Climate Active have electricity calculators that help with calculating the associated emissions.

Location-based method

  • You need to convert electricity use in each state of your operations into t CO2-e using the relevant state NGA factor (either scope 2 and scope 3; or the full fuel cycle factor).
  • The emissions factor used should correspond to the reporting year where possible, i.e. a 2018 reporting year should use the 2018 NGA factors.

If you are interested in the development of a Climate Active carbon inventory for your organisation that takes into account scope 3 emissions and properly accounts for electricity-based emissions/reductions, please consider contacting us. Two of our staff are registered consultants with Climate Active, and we can guide you through the process of achieving certification or developing a Climate Active-ready carbon inventory. If you would like more information, please download our Climate Active brochure, or 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.

CORENA – How one dollar spent can fund emissions reduction projects multiple times [video and podcast]

Introducing our new ‘Driving Net Profit with Zero Emissions’ show

If you’re following our ’Driving Net Profit with Zero Emissions’ Youtube channel, you may have watched some of our video series, such as how to achieve Climate Active carbon-neutral certification, setting a Science-Based Target, or Net-Zero strategies.

Today, I’m proud and excited to introduce our very own Driving Net Profit with Zero Emissions show. This show will provide businesses with best-practice and cutting-edge ‘net-zero’ stories. I’ll be the main host, and in every show, I will interview climate action leaders.

Today, we are releasing the video and the accompanying blog post of the first episode, but soon, we’ll release our podcast, so please stay tuned.

Ep. #1 with Briony O’Shea

For the first episode of the “Driving Net Profit with Zero Emissions” show, I’m interviewing Briony O’Shea, the Chair of Corena. Briony is a chemical engineer with a Master of Laws in International Law. She specialises in renewable energy and future fuels such as hydrogen and biogas to support the transition to a low-carbon future. She joined Corena in 2017 as a volunteer and took over the role of Chair in 2020.

Corena is a community revolving energy fund, which takes donations from people or organisations in the community to drive emissions reduction via a Revolving Energy Fund.

I’ve blogged about Revolving Energy Funds in previous articles. These funds are a great mechanism to finance climate action strategies. They are a self-sustaining funding mechanism, which you start with seed capital that you invest in sustainability projects, such as energy efficiency, water conservation, or solar projects, for example.

The fund’s unique feature is that you return savings from sustainability projects back into the REF to finance the next round of investments. In this way, you can spend funds multiple times to drive emissions reduction, resource and cost savings.

You can watch the full video of the interview here:

What is Corena?

Corena is a grass-root, donor-funded, not-for-profit organisation run by volunteers. The premise of the Corena model is a revolving fund to which supporters donate, and the provision of zero-interest loans to not-for-profit and community organisations to implement climate action projects. Examples of funded projects are installing solar panels, improving energy efficiency, switching away from fossil gas use, or purchasing electric vehicles.

To date, Corena has implemented over 40 projects Australia-wide, with most projects being solar PV installations and energy efficiency. Altogether, 663 kW of solar PV have been installed, generating over 1,800 MWh of renewable electricity. Corena has received donations of over $460,000, and because of the revolving nature of the fund, these donations have resulted in over $800,000 in loans given. They’re on track to exceed $1 million of loans given this year.

How does it work?

Corena raises funds to support climate action projects via donations from anyone keen to help tackle climate change. Corena provides zero-interest loans to community organisations to install solar PV or implement other climate action projects. As these loans are paid off by the recipient with the savings from their solar project, the money is re-loaned to another organisation.

What are the benefits?

There are several benefits for everyone involved. For Corena, every project they support is making a tangible difference in reducing emissions. The money donated is put to work immediately to reduce carbon emissions, and the donors can track the impact each investment makes.

For donors, the revolving fund model means that the money they donate for one project is repaid and goes on to fund another project, so a single donation amount can be utilised multiple times. Corena has an impact calculator on its website that demonstrates the revolving benefit of the donations they’ve received.

For the recipient organisation, there’s not only the benefit of themselves being able to be part of the climate solution and take direct action, but in doing so, they receive the benefits of reduced energy bills, which contributes to their bottom line.

What kind of organisations can make use of the funds?

Corena provides loans predominantly to not-for-profit organisations that don’t have easy access to funding to take climate action. Corena also looks at what service the organisation is providing the community. Corena goes through a process of assessing what each organisation’s needs are, and what projects or installations might benefit the organisation.

How can you apply for a zero-interest loan?

You are eligible to apply for a Corena loan if you are a non-profit community organisation, or if you are providing services to your community. A solar project may be suitable if your premises have regular daytime use, your roof is in good condition, and you either own your premises or have a secure long-term lease. An electric vehicle project may be suitable if you have vehicles with regular high usage.

To apply for a project loan, please go to Corena’s website, fill in and submit the online Expression of Interest form.

How can people participate?

If you want to support Corena, there are several ways how you can be involved.

  • Individuals: You can donate to the revolving fund, by visiting corenafund.org.au and choosing to donate to a project. You can elect to join as a volunteer, and there are many ways that volunteers can donate their time, whether it’s to provide social media support, IT, developing communications materials, or offering to approach other organisations to help identify new projects to fund. Individuals can also lobby their local government to take action by setting up a revolving energy fund for the community.
  • Organisations: You can donate to Corena, or you can identify climate action projects that Corena could fund. You can also help by fundraising via your own networks.
  • Local governments: You can donate, identify not-for-profit organisations within your community, and potentially on council premises, that would benefit from a Corena loan, and help connect with those organisations. You can also adopt the Corena model and set up your own fund to provide interest-free loans to residents or organisations within your community to take climate action. The Corena model is particularly useful for councils that have declared a climate emergency.

People can get in touch via Corena’s website and subscribe to Corena via email, eNews, or social media. You can also send a direct email to Briony@corenafund.org.au or office@corenafund.org.au.

To view or download this episode’s show notes/transcript, please click here.

100% Renewables are experts in helping organisations develop their climate action strategies and accompanying financing plans. If you need help with developing your climate action plan, 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 top 23 Australian universities for climate action commitments in 2021

In addition to tracking ambitious commitments of local governments and communities, 100% Renewables has been tracking carbon and renewable energy commitments made by Australia’s public tertiary education sector since 2017.

Our first University-related blog post published actions and commitments of several universities that demonstrated sustainable energy leadership. We highlighted examples of leading clean energy and low carbon research, divestments from fossil fuels, and examples of universities’ targets and actions to reduce their carbon footprint.

In 2020, we published a blog post series on a number of sustainability leadership topics that are relevant to the tertiary education sector:

  1. Commitments, actions and achievements of 14 leading universities across Australia
  2. Universities with Green Star certified buildings
  3. Universities that are signatories to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
  4. Universities with fossil fuel divestment commitments

This blog post revisits ambitious climate action commitments made by universities and provides an updated list. Since our 2020 blog post series, nine more universities have committed to ambitious goals, and several others have increased their climate ambition. A total of 23 out of 40 universities have now committed to ambitious climate action targets.

Below are some examples:

Out of the 23 universities in the ambitious commitments list, 11 have committed to 100% renewable energy on or before 2030, 11 have committed to carbon neutrality on or before 2030, and 7 have committed to net-zero GHG emissions targets on or before 2050.

Top 23 universities’ 100% renewable energy and carbon neutrality/net-zero commitments

Carbon neutral, net zero and 100% renewables commitments by Australian universities as at Feb 2021 (map)
Figure 1: Carbon neutral, net zero and 100% renewables commitments by Australian universities as at Feb 2021

Below is a list of 23 leading universities in Australia that have demonstrated sustainable energy leadership with their ambitious commitments to 100% renewable energy or carbon neutrality/net-zero emissions.

NoStateUniversityRenewable energy CommitmentCarbon neutrality commitment
1ACTAustralian National UniversityIncrease renewable energy generation by 50 percent by 2021Decrease total carbon emissions by 30 per cent by 2021
Minimising the University's greenhouse gas emissions footprint through its own operations, in line with commitments to be greenhouse gas negative as soon as possible
2NSWAustralian Catholic University100% renewable electricity by July 2021Net zero emissions by 2030
3NSWCharles Sturt University100% clean energy by 2030First university to obtain NCOS/Climate Active-accredited carbon neutral status in 2016
4NSWMacquarie UniversityUniversity’s total greenhouse gas emissions cut by 92 per cent, with the campus’ electricity being sourced from Snowy Hydro from 1 July 2020Aim of reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 40% by 2030
5NSWUniversity of NewcastleDeliver 100% renewable electricity across our Newcastle and Central Coast campuses from 1 January 2020Achieve carbon neutrality by 2025
6NSWUniversity of New South Wales100% renewable electricity by 2020Carbon neutrality on energy use by 2020
7NSWUniversity of Sydney100% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2025Net zero emissions by 2030
8NSWWestern Sydney University100% renewable energy by 2025Net-zero GHG emissions target by 2030
9QLDCQ University50 percent of its energy for its Queensland campuses sourced from renewable solar from 2021Aim at reducing carbon emissions
10QLDGriffith University45-50% emissions reduction against a 2010 baseline by 2030
Net zero emissions by 2050
11QLDUniversity of Queensland100% renewable energy by 2020Reduction in the university’s carbon footprint
12QLDUniversity of the Sunshine CoastLarge-scale solar PV and thermal storage at Sippy Downs campusCarbon neutral by 2025
13QLDUniversity of Southern QueenslandCommitted to achieve 100% renewable energy by installing a Sustainable Energy SolutionCarbon neutral by 2020
14SAFlinders UniversityGenerate 30% of our energy needs from renewable sourcesAchieve zero net emissions
from electricity by 2021
15SAUniversity of Adelaide2MW of renewable energy installed by 2020
15% reduction in Energy intensity
(GJ/GFA m2) by 2020 (2014 baseline)
Net zero emissions by 2050
16TASUniversity of TasmaniaEnsure efficacious energy management and contribute to the Tasmanian Government 2022 target to be a 100% renewable-energy-powered StateCarbon neutral certified since 2016
17VICDeakin UniversitySustainable microgrid systems in the community and their effective integration with existing energy networksCarbon neutral by 2030
18VICLa Trobe UniversityRenewable energy project will increase our solar generation by 200%Carbon neutral by 2029 and our regional campuses are set to become carbon neutral by 2022.
19VICRMIT University100% renewable energy from 2019Carbon neutral by 2030
20VICMonash University100% renewable energy by 2030Net zero carbon emissions from Australian campuses by 2030
21VICSwinburne University of TechnologyCommit to 100 per cent renewable energy procurement by 31 July 2020Carbon neutral by 2025
22VICUniversity of MelbourneAchieve zero net emissions
from electricity by 2021
Achieve carbon neutrality
before 2030
Reduce emissions by 20,000 tonnes of carbon per year by 2020 through on-campus energy projects
23WAUniversity of Western Australia100% renewable energy by 2025Energy carbon neutral by 2025

100% Renewables has been pleased to support a number of these institutions with the development and delivery of their renewable energy and carbon abatement programs.

100% Renewables are experts in helping organisations develop their renewable energy strategies and action plans. If you need help with developing your climate action 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.

Lane Cove Council’s Solar for Business Program

100% Renewables is assisting Lane Cove Council with the development and implementation of a solar feasibility program for business. The aim is to help local businesses take decisions to install solar PV at their premises. Council has feasibility funding available in the current financial year, and is aiming to see a number of commercial solar systems installed by the end of the financial year resulting from the program.

A key barrier to many businesses implementing solar is access to information, and in particular access to information they can trust. Council and independent expertise are seen as good sources of credible information in this regard.

A key challenge for a program to assist business to make decisions armed with sound information is cost, specifically being able to engage business, perform accurate analysis and provide a sound and independent business case for solar.

Through our solar feasibility assessments, development of specifications & procurement advice, and through implementation of sustainability programs for small business, 100% Renewables has refined our processes, aimed at reaching as many businesses as possible while providing sound advice that owners can act on.

Solar for Business Program – Lane Cove Council

Lane Cove Council’s “Solar for Business Program” is a free Council initiative to assist commercial and industrial businesses reduce their energy consumption, resulting in potentially thousands of dollars of savings per year. The aim of the Program is to assist businesses reduce their energy costs by providing a complimentary solar PV feasibility report. By joining the program, businesses will receive independent expert advice and an energy analysis and a solar feasibility study to identify opportunities to lower operating costs through installing solar panels.

Benefits of going solar

Reduced electricity bills

We will work closely with businesses in Lane Cove to understand their daytime and weekend energy consumption, as well as their building and electrical systems, so that we can develop a solar PV system that will be feasible for their business. Commercial buildings tend to benefit from installing solar PV mainly due to daytime business hours aligning with the solar array’s energy output. This ensures a reduction in total energy consumption, which reduces a business’ electricity bills.

Low maintenance costs and reliability

Solar PV systems are simple solutions that capture free energy from the sun for use in your property. Apart from basic annual maintenance, solar PV systems should continue to produce clean energy for over 25 years. Furthermore, most solar panels available in the industry have been certified to withstand different weather conditions, ensuring continuous reliability throughout its lifetime.

Financial advantages

By installing a solar system, your firm can minimise exposure to changes to grid electricity prices over time. Moreover, any excess generation from your system could be fed back to the grid and may attract a ‘feed-in’ rate from your electricity supplier, which is an additional revenue stream. Our report analyses the financial savings from installing a solar system, so that you can clearly see the payback to your business and the total savings over the life of the system.

Businesses can claim government incentives such as small-scale technology and large-scale generation certificates, making your investment financially attractive. For small systems less than 100 kW, your government credit is provided as an up-front discount, making a solar PV system cheaper to install.

Improvements in technology

The price of solar panels has fallen dramatically over the last decade with constant improvement in solar panel efficiency. This means you can harvest more renewable energy per panel, meaning you may still be able to save money even if you have a small roof space. We have also seen an improvement with power conversion units (inverters), which play a vital role in producing maximum energy output from your solar PV system at any point in time.

Environmental awareness

By committing to sustainability, you become a valued business in society. Through solar system installations, you grow your environmental credentials as well as save money, which would be highly regarded among your clients. Moreover, solar panels provide a great visual statement about your commitment to the environment. Your business will also play an integral role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions by reducing your reliance on grid energy.

Who should apply?

We are looking for all commercial and industrial building owners and tenants that are committed to reducing their energy use and saving on operating costs. We encourage applications from all sizes of buildings, from small retail premises through to large warehouses with high energy bills.

We invite interested business owners and tenants in the Lane Cove LGA to submit an expression of interest. Successful applications will be those whose applications demonstrate high likelihood of implementing solar PV where this is shown to be cost-effective. Council is also interested in developing case studies for buildings who install solar as a result of the Program.

How can we help?

If you think your business could benefit from this program, please send an email to leslie@100percentrenewables.com.au or Complete the Solar for Business program expression of interest form.

Webform for registering your interest for a solar feasibility study sponsored by Lane Cove Council
Figure 1: Webform for registering your interest for a solar feasibility study sponsored by Lane Cove Council

To find out more, please visit www.lanecove.nsw.gov.au/solarforbusiness

 

100% Renewables are experts in helping organisations develop their climate change strategies and action plans, and supporting the implementation and achievement of ambitious targets. If you need help to develop your Climate Change 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.

Revolving Energy Funds – why you need one and using an Excel tool to model the outcome [with video]

In a previous blog post we released in 2017, I wrote about how to set up a Revolving Energy Fund or REF, also known as a ‘Green Revolving Fund’ or ‘Sustainability Revolving Fund’.

In this blog post, I will dive deeper into Revolving Energy Funds. I will talk about what they are, how to operate them, what their benefits are and how to model the financial outcome using an Excel tool we developed.

As part of the Sustainable Councils and Communities and Sustainability Advantage programs, 100% Renewables was commissioned to develop a set of resources to assist councils to pitch, design, develop, implement and manage a successful Revolving Energy Fund (REF). I had the pleasure to present the resources we developed in a webinar which was hosted by the New South Wales Government. Kelly Williamson from Campbelltown City Council also shared her experience in setting up Council’s Revolving Energy Fund.

Barbara Albert presenting at a webinar about Revolving Energy Funds
Figure 1: Barbara Albert presenting at a webinar about Revolving Energy Funds

Here is what was discussed in the webinar:

What are Revolving Energy Funds?

A Revolving Energy Fund (REF) is a self-sustaining funding mechanism, which you start with seed capital that you invest in sustainability projects, such as energy efficiency, water conservation, or solar projects for example. The fund’s unique feature is that you return savings from sustainability projects back into the REF to finance the next round of investments. In this way, you can spend funds multiple times to drive emissions reduction, resource and cost savings.

Revolving Energy Fund - funding cycle
Figure 2: Revolving Energy Fund – funding cycle

Three benefits of a Revolving Energy Fund

Here are three benefits of implementing a REF to finance your climate action plan.

Benefit 1 – Responds to climate change

Implementing a REF addresses a strategic priority for business. More and more organisations are committing to ambitious targets such as net-zero emissions, or 100% renewable energy. As the need to decarbonise increases, the need for innovative financing to enable cost-saving efficiency and renewable energy projects increases in importance.

Benefit 2 – Results in faster implementation

By re-investing and tracking energy cost savings, organisations can more quickly realise the full financial returns from investing in efficiency and renewables.

Benefit 3 – Easier to finance projects

Sustainability projects are often capital-intensive and potentially ‘not core business’, making these projects challenging to implement when compared with other investment options that improve a business. Having a dedicated REF makes it easier to finance sustainability projects.

How to operate a Revolving Energy Fund

You always need to start a REF with seed capital. How much you inject initially may depend on the number and size of opportunities in your climate action strategy, but clearly the more you put in, the more projects you can fund, and the more self-sustaining the financing cycle will be.

In addition to seed capital, you may also consider putting in top-up funds in subsequent years to make sure the fund does not run out of money, which can lead to a loss of momentum in implementing your climate action strategy. You may also look for grant funding opportunities or other incentives to help build and sustain a REF.

Whatever money is in the fund can be used to finance sustainability projects such as solar, lighting or air conditioning upgrades. These projects come with resource and associated cost savings, and in line with the design intent of a REF, part of the savings are returned to the fund to be invested in new initiatives.

The proportion of savings returned to the fund, and for how long, will affect the fund’s financial health and sustainability. You can simulate the performance of your REF in the Excel tool we’ve developed, balancing seed capital, top-up funds, grants and returned savings to ensure there are always enough funds available in the REF to implement your pipeline of projects. This is illustrated in Figure 3 below.

How to operate a Revolving Energy Fund
Figure 3: How to operate a Revolving Energy Fund

REF modelling tool

To help organisations model the financial outcome of implementing a REF, we developed an easy-to-use Excel tool. The REF tool can help you simulate the performance of the fund for your assessed sustainability projects and determine the required amount of money to achieve a cash-positive scenario.

You can use the tool to:

  • Input a list of projects with costs and savings that the REF is intended to help finance
  • Estimate the total funding needed to finance projects based on their expected year of implementation
  • Forecast how a portfolio of projects will perform
  • Help with planning and budgeting

Here are a couple of screenshots of the tool:

Set up your Revolving Energy Fund, such as the amount of seed capital and regular top-ups
Figure 4: Set up your Revolving Energy Fund, such as the amount of seed capital and regular top-ups
Input your projects, along with their costs and expected resource savings
Figure 5: Input your projects, along with their costs and expected resource savings
Analyse how your inputs affect the balance of the Revolving Energy Fund
Figure 6: Analyse how your inputs affect the balance of the Revolving Energy Fund

I have prepared a video to demonstrate how this tool works. The 10-min clip starts with an overview of Revolving Energy Funds and then dives into the use of our REF tool.

Three critical success factors

Revolving Energy Funds are a great tool to finance your climate action strategy, but you should be mindful of the following critical success factors:

  1. Get senior management commitment to emissions reduction over the long term: With senior management support and commitment to achieving long-term emissions reductions, the REF is likely to be better supported over the long term. A REF policy with commitment to support this with funds and resources to help meet ambitious climate action targets is one way to secure long term senior support.
  2. Make sure you always have enough money in the fund: a viable REF has enough cashflow in and out of the fund to implement projects that contribute to achieving your targets. Getting the balance right between initial funds, grants, top-up funds and savings returned to the fund versus savings returned to general funds is critical to success.
  3. Set up the fund with an appropriate governance structure: Like other funding, a REF should be functional, transparent and auditable. It is recommended that you develop REF documentation setting out how the fund will be managed, establish clear project eligibility and selection criteria, as well as how savings will be measured and re-invested back into the REF. You should also set up a REF management committee, and assign accountability of the fund to a manager.

If you are considering a Revolving Energy Fund and want to avoid any pitfalls in setting it up optimally, please contact us for help.

100% Renewables are experts in helping organisations develop their climate action strategies and plans, and supporting the implementation and achievement of ambitious targets. If you need help to create your Climate Change Strategy, please contact  Barbara or Patrick.

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