Category Archives: Net zero

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.

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.

Summary tables of ambitious carbon and renewables commitments in Australia by states, territories and local governments

Ambitious climate change commitments by Australia's states and local governments
Ambitious climate change commitments by Australia’s states and local governments

Last week, we published a blog post with state-by-state graphics of ambitious carbon and renewables commitments by local governments in Australia. This week, we are following up with publishing summary tables of these climate change commitments.

Below are three tables that showcase the commitments of states and territories, followed by capital cities, and local governments.

States’ and territories’ climate change commitments

States and territories are committing to both renewable energy as well as carbon reduction targets.

State or territoryRenewable energy commitmentCarbon commitment
Australia~20% from renewable energy sources by 2020 (33,000 GWh by 2020)26-28% emissions reduction from 2005 levels by 2030
ACT100% renewable electricity by 202040% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions on 1990 levels by 2020
Zero net emissions by 2045
NSW20% from renewable energy in line with the RETZero net emissions by 2050
NT50% renewable energy by 2030
SANo new target. 50% renewables target by 2025 largely met.Zero net emissions by 2050
QLD50% renewable energy by 2030Zero net emissions by 2050
VIC40% renewable energy by 2025Zero net emissions by 2050
TAS100% renewable energy by 2022Commitment to establish a zero net emissions target by 2050
WANo targetNo target

South Australia previously had a commitment to 50% renewable energy. However, according to a report by the Climate Council,  South Australia was able to achieve a 43.5% energy production from renewables in 2017. This means that with increasing renewable energy production in 2018, their target is largely met. Since the new Government came in, no new commitments have been made.

Capital cities’ climate change commitments

Australian capital cities have mostly committed to carbon reduction goals, with many of them targeting or having already achieved carbon neutral/net zero emissions status.

Capital CityCommitment
ACT GovernmentCarbon neutral by 2020
City of AdelaideZero net emissions from council operations by 2020
First carbon neutral town by 2050
Brisbane City CouncilCarbon neutral council from 2017
Melbourne City CouncilCarbon neutral council by 2020
City of PerthReduce council emissions by 20% by 2020
Facilitate a 32% reduction in citywide emissions by 2031
City of Sydney*Reduce emissions by 70% for the LGA by 2030
50% renewable energy for the LGA by 2030
Net zero emissions for the LGA by 2050

*The City of Sydney has made a pledge to achieve 100% renewable energy, with details to come in the Sustainable Sydney 2050 strategy, which will be developed in 2019.

Local governments’ and LGAs’ climate change commitments

This table showcases ambitious carbon and energy commitments by local governments and their communities. If you are interested in learning more about the difference between renewable energy and carbon targets, you should read our blog post on whether carbon neutral and 100% renewables are the same.

New additions to the list of local governments include Moreland Council, City of Darebin, Broken Hill Council, Logan Council, Noosa Council, Hepburn Council, Mornington Peninsula Council, Warrnambool Council, Nambucca Council and the City of Randwick Council.

Council or Local Government AreaCommitment
Byron Shire Council100% renewable energy by 2027
Net zero emissions by 2025
Byron Bay communityPlan for first zero net emissions community
City of Greater Bendigo100% renewable energy by 2036
Coffs Harbour City Council100% renewable energy by 2030
Eurobodalla Shire Council100% renewable energy by 2030
City of Fremantle100% renewable energy by 2025
Carbon neutral since 2009
Zero carbon for LGA by 2025
Gold Coast City CouncilCarbon neutral by 2020
City of Greater GeelongZero carbon council by 2050
Lismore City CouncilSelf-generate all electricity needs from renewable sources by 2023
Mullumbimby100% renewable energy by 2020
Newstead Village100% renewable energy by 2017
City of ParramattaCarbon neutral by 2022 with 60% emissions reduction by 2038 based on 2015 levels
Port Macquarie-Hastings Council100% renewable energy by 2027
City of Port PhillipZero net emissions by 2020
Tweed Shire Council50% renewable energy by 2025
Tyalgum VillagePlan to be off the grid, 100% renewable energy, with batteries
Uralla TownPlan to be first zero net energy town
Yackandandah Town100% renewable energy by 2022
Moreland Council100% renewable energy by 2019
Carbon neutral for operations since 2012
Zero carbon emissions Moreland by 2040
City of DarebinZero net carbon emissions across Darebin by 2020
Broken Hill Council100% renewable energy status by 2030
Logan CouncilCarbon neutral by 2022
Noosa CouncilNet zero emissions by 2026
Hepburn CouncilCarbon neutral by 2021
Mornington Peninsula CouncilCarbon neutral by 2021
Warrnambool CouncilCarbon neutral city by 2040
Nambucca CouncilZero net carbon emissions within the 2030 to 2050 time frame
Randwick CouncilZero emissions by 2030

100% Renewables is specialised in helping local governments define and achieve their renewable energy and carbon goals. Please speak to Barbara or Patrick for more 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. You can also contact us for a copy of the commitment graphics – they are available as standalone JPGs for each government level.

Ambitious carbon and renewable energy commitments by local governments in Australia as at October 2018

via GIPHY

100% Renewables had the pleasure to catch up with many of our clients at the recent Cities Power Partnership Summit in Kiama. The Cities Power Partnership is Australia’s largest local government climate network, made up of over 100 councils across the country, representing almost 11 million Australians. Local councils who join the partnership make five action pledges in either renewable energy, efficiency, transport or working in partnership to tackle climate change.

The summit started with an inspiring international keynote address from US renewable energy visionary Mayor R. Rex Parris of Lancaster, California. Lancaster was the first city in the United States to require solar panels on new homes and has a plan to become the first zero net energy city, generating as much renewable electricity as it consumes.

While planning rules are different in Australia, Mayor Rex’s speech resonated strongly with participants. With many of the following presentations showcasing innovative renewable energy projects by Australian councils, it became clear that we can be climate leaders, too, and that ambitious commitments and actions are needed to avert catastrophic climate change.

100% Renewables has been tracking ambitious sustainability commitments made by all levels of Australian government since we developed the Renewable Energy Master Plan for Lismore City Council in 2014. In May 2017, we published our first blog post on the energy and carbon commitments of states, territories and local governments. In March 2018, we posted an update of the carbon and renewable energy commitments.

Our updated review of carbon and renewable energy commitments, immediately following the Cities Power Partnership summit, reveals that local governments are accelerating their commitments and implementation of actions to drive sustainability outcomes. In addition, the ACT Government continued to demonstrate its leadership in climate action at the summit, talking about their plans for sustainable transport and extending an offer to local governments to join in their initiative to source electric vehicles in the ACT Government fleet.

Updated local government ambitious renewable energy and carbon commitments

With more and more local governments committing to ambitious goals, we developed state-by-state graphics that show these commitments. The ACT, NSW and Victorian councils are leading the way. Five graphics show the extent of local government commitments below, with capital cities and the ACT highlighted in orange.

As more and more councils commit to substantially reduce their emissions and source their own energy needs from renewables we will capture these and share them in the future. In addition, we will capture and report on commitments made for communities.

Ambitious renewable energy and carbon commitment by NSW councils and the ACT Government

Ambitious renewable energy and carbon commitments by local governments in NSW and the ACT as at Oct 18
Ambitious renewable energy and carbon commitments by local governments in NSW and the ACT as at Oct 18

Ambitious renewable energy and carbon commitment by VIC councils

Ambitious renewable energy and carbon commitments by local governments in VIC as at Oct 18
Ambitious renewable energy and carbon commitments by local governments in VIC as at Oct 18

Ambitious renewable energy and carbon commitment by QLD councils

Ambitious renewable energy and carbon commitments by local governments in QLD as at Oct 18
Ambitious renewable energy and carbon commitments by local governments in QLD as at Oct 18

Ambitious renewable energy and carbon commitment by SA councils

Ambitious renewable energy and carbon commitments by local governments in SA as at Oct 18
Ambitious renewable energy and carbon commitments by local governments in SA as at Oct 18

Ambitious renewable energy and carbon commitment by WA councils

Ambitious renewable energy and carbon commitments by local governments in WA as at Oct 18
Ambitious renewable energy and carbon commitments by local governments in WA as at Oct 18

100% Renewables specialises in helping local governments and their communities define and achieve ambitious carbon and renewable energy goals. If you are interested in hearing more about our projects with councils, 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.”

Allowable ‘offset mechanisms’ for 100% renewable energy and carbon neutral goals

In an earlier blog post, we analysed two different targets, carbon neutrality and 100% renewable energy. In this blog post, we answer two customer questions about ways to offset typical emission sources, as well as displaying a summary table.

Can you offset your entire carbon footprint by purchasing renewable energy?

The short answer is no. It is possible for 100% of your electricity demand to be met by renewable energy. However, it won’t be possible to reach carbon neutrality solely based on an efficiency and renewables strategy.

This is because renewable electricity purchases can only be used to offset your electricity consumption and not to offset other emission sources like natural gas, diesel or petrol emissions, or supply chain emissions like paper consumption. For these emission sources, carbon offsets may need to be purchased until renewable energy alternatives are widely available.

You can read more about the differences between the energy and carbon footprint in this blog post.

Can you use LGCS to offset the electricity consumption from assets over which you don’t have operational control?

LGCs, or Large-Scale Generation Certificates are Renewable Energy Certificates, which certify that renewable energy has been produced. Every 1 MWh of eligible renewable energy generation creates 1 LGC. You can use LGCs to offset your electricity consumption and claim the renewable energy. You can buy LGCs indirectly by purchasing GreenPower®, by entering into a corporate PPA or buying LGCs through a broker.

LGCs can be used against your electricity consumption, but they can also be used to offset the downstream electricity consumption from assets over which you don’t have operational control. Examples of this would be the energy consumption of street lights in the case of councils or the energy consumption of an outsourced data centre.

Allowable offset mechanisms per emission scope
Figure 1: Allowable offset mechanisms per emission scope

You can purchase LGCs to cover your own electricity consumption plus additional ones for your outsourced assets and retire them on behalf of your outsourced provider. This decision is particularly important for the size of a potential Power Purchase Agreement.

Offsetting mechanisms for your typical emission sources

The following table helps to clarify which offset mechanism can be used against which emission source using the example of a National Carbon Offset Standard (NCOS)-compliant inventory. It also shows what emissions sources carbon neutrality and achieving 100% renewable energy relate to.

Allowable offset mechanisms for carbon neutrality and 100% renewable energy

Emission SourceUsing carbon offsets to ‘offset’Using LGCs (RECs) to ‘offset’Achieve carbon neutralityAchieve 100% renewable energy?
RefrigerantsYesNoYesN/A
Natural GasYesNoYesAchievable only with renewable fuels
Fleet Vehicles DieselYesNoYesAchievable only with renewable fuels
Fleet Vehicles PetrolYesNoYesAchievable only with renewable fuels
Fleet Vehicles EthanolYesNoYesAlready renewable
Fleet Vehicles BiodieselYesNoYesAlready renewable
Fleet Vehicles LPGYesNoYesAchievable only with renewable fuels
ElectricityYesYesYesYes
Electricity (Street Lighting)YesYesYesYes
Electricity consumption base buildingYesYesYesYes
Outsourced electricity consumption (e.g. data centres)YesYesYesYes
Water and sewerYesNoYesOnly if water/sewer provider is powered by renewables
PaperYesNoYesN/A
EquipmentYesNoYesN/A
Food and CateringYesNoYesN/A
PostageYesNoYesN/A
Taxis, Uber and other servicesYesNoYesOnly if third-party organisation has fleet powered by renewables
Employee commuteYesNoYesOnly if all employees’ commute is powered by renewables
Waste to landfillYesNoYesN/A
Green wasteYesNoYesN/A
Air travelYesNoYesOnly if planes are powered by renewables

If you would like to know more about the best strategy for your organisation to offset your emission sources given your unique circumstances, why not have an informal chat with 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.”

Are ‘carbon neutral’ and ‘100% renewable’ the same?

It is not always clear what the targets carbon neutrality and 100% renewable energy mean. In this blog, we will define these targets and talk about the difference between your energy and carbon footprint. In one of our next blog posts, we will look at allowable offset mechanisms like RECs/LGCs and carbon offsets.

The difference between your energy and carbon footprint

Your energy footprint relates to your business’ energy consumption. For most organisations, ‘energy’ encompasses not only electricity but also stationary energy and transport fuels. Examples of stationary fuels are natural gas, diesel for generators, and LPG for forklifts. Examples of transport fuels include diesel, petrol, and LPG that power your fleet.

A carbon footprint is the sum of your emission sources, a big part of which is your energy consumption. You can develop a narrow carbon footprint of emissions that happen at your place of business (Scope 1) and the emissions associated with electricity consumption (Scope 2). Alternatively, you can develop a wide carbon footprint which also includes emissions in your supply chain (Scope 3).

A carbon footprint is usually broader than your energy footprint. You can see in Figure 1 that an energy footprint is a subset of a carbon footprint. From a carbon accounting perspective, your energy footprint relates to your Scope 2 emissions and to some of your Scope 1 emissions.

The difference between your energy footprint and carbon footprint and claims for 100% renewable energy and carbon neutrality
Figure 1: The difference between your energy footprint and carbon footprint and claims for 100% renewable energy and carbon neutrality

What is carbon neutrality?

Carbon neutrality (or zero net emissions) is reached when all emission sources in your defined boundary are zero. This is demonstrated in Figure 1 in the bottom line. Ideally, your defined carbon footprint boundary encompasses as many emission sources as possible so that your claim for carbon neutrality is credible.

You can reach carbon neutrality by:

  1. Reducing your emissions onsite through energy efficiency or by installing solar PV
  2. Building or purchasing renewables offsite, and by
  3. Offsetting the rest of your emissions through the purchase of carbon offsets

For further information on these three categories, you can read our blogs on the carbon management hierarchy, compare the value of onsite and offsite solar, and installing solar via onsite PPAs.

What is 100% renewable energy?

You are 100% renewable when the amount of renewable energy produced is equal to or more than what is consumed. In most cases, people associate only electricity with ‘100% renewable’. However, as you can see in Figure 1 ‘energy’ can encompass stationary and transport fuels as well. So, to be truly 100% renewable, you would have to include these fuels. While it is relatively straightforward to reach 100% renewable electricity, it is more difficult to achieve 100% renewable energy for stationary and transport fuels.

To avoid doubt if your real objective is to green your electricity supply, you can define your target to be ‘100% renewable electricity’. You can reach this goal by:

  1. Implementing onsite solar PV
  2. Building your own mid-scale solar farm or solar/wind farm in partnership with others
  3. Buying renewables (e.g., through a corporate Power Purchase Agreement)

For further information, you can read our Guide on ‘How to achieve 100% renewable energy’ or buy Barbara’s book ‘Energy Unlimited – Four Steps to 100% Renewable Energy’. Signed copies can be purchased here, and the ebook version is available from reputable bookstores.

Conclusion

Carbon neutrality and 100% renewable energy are two different targets. It is easier to reach ‘carbon neutrality’ than to reach ‘100% renewable energy’, especially if the boundary for energy encompasses both electricity, natural gas and transport fuels. However, to be a leader in climate change, your organisation should also strive towards a renewable energy target as your impact will be much greater.

It is possible to reach 100% renewable energy AND carbon neutrality. Microsoft has been achieving both since 2014. You can also pursue both targets in a staged approach. As an example, you could aim for 100% renewable electricity in the first instance, followed by carbon neutrality in the medium term, followed by 100% renewable energy in the long run.

If you have specific questions about defining a target that works for your organisation, or if you would like us to develop a pathway to your sustainability goal, please have a chat with 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.”

Does the typical carbon management hierarchy apply to your business?

Clients sometimes ask us in what order they should deliver carbon reduction actions, often in the context of their carbon neutral/zero net emissions goal. Ordinarily, we suggest the ‘typical’ carbon management hierarchy such as that shown in Figure 1.

Typical carbon management hierarchy
Figure 1: Typical carbon management hierarchy

Typical carbon management hierarchy

The typical hierarchy suggests that a priority order of implementation should include:

  1. Energy efficiency: referred to as the ‘first fuel’, more efficient technologies, controls and practices helps to ensure that the least amount of energy is consumed before other measures are considered.
  2. Onsite solar PV: use of available roof space to implement solar PV to offset grid electricity consumption which is mainly produced from fossil fuels. Battery storage will enable solar PV systems to be expanded to offset a higher percent of onsite power demand in future.
  3. Offsite renewables: Power Purchase Agreements are becoming increasingly popular, particularly by large corporations and groups of organisations with similar aspirations and procurement processes. Some organisations have their own land and are interested in building their own solar farm to meet some or all of their energy needs.
  4. Carbon offsets: generally seen as the last step in a carbon management strategy, offsets are often purchased after all other ways to reduce carbon emissions have been exhausted.

Every organisation has unique needs

However, while this approach is ‘ideal’, every business’ situation is different, and this approach may not represent the best strategy for everyone. For example:

  • Energy using technologies may be capital intensive or new energy efficiency opportunities may be limited.
  • Onsite solar and batteries may be able to meet all of the energy demands of a warehouse operation for example. However old roofs, heritage buildings, multi-storey and energy-intensive facilities might have very limited PV capacity, or PV may only meet a small percent of energy demand.
  • Onsite solar PV may actually be cheaper and deliver a better return on investment compared with many efficiency measures.
  • Purchasing renewables via a PPA is becoming increasingly cheaper, particularly for large energy users. This may be a better option than many efficiency or onsite solar opportunities as it can achieve emissions reduction at scale that other options cannot, and at similar or lower cost to ‘standard’ grid power.
  • A business may have considerable Scope 3 carbon emissions that it has low ability to influence other than to purchase offsets; for example, flights, employee commute or catering expenses.

A business should tackle ambitious goals such as carbon neutrality with a multi-pronged approach that evaluates all of the abatement options and prioritises them based on what they can contribute to the end goal. The optimum carbon management hierarchy for each business may be different.

Individual carbon management hierarchy
Figure 2: Individual carbon management hierarchy for a client in a large heritage building

For example, a recent plan developed for a client in a large heritage building showed that their net zero goal can best be met through a PPA for renewable energy, followed by offset purchasing. Efficiency and onsite solar PV make only a small contribution in their case. This is shown in Figure 2.

Represented in this way makes it easier to communicate what is most to least important in the context of achieving ambitious carbon goals.

If you are interested to find out where your biggest savings are, both in monetary and carbon reduction terms, 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 USC developed their Carbon Management plan

Barbara was the main speaker at a TEFMA webinar focusing on the development of USC's Carbon Management Plan
Barbara Albert from 100% Renewables presenting at a webinar to TEFMA

This week, Barbara presented at a webinar run by TEFMA to Universities around Australia and New Zealand. The topic of the presentation was the Carbon Management Plan for the University of the Sunshine Coast (USC) developed with the University by 100% Renewables.

USC to become a carbon-neutral university

USC has a long track record of sustainability since its inception when several awards were received for design at its Sippy Downs campus. USC’s sustainability program encompasses the natural environment at the university, energy and water efficiency in design and operation, waste management, supply chain emissions, transport as well as a wide range of education and engagement activities for staff and students. Strong governance has seen the sustainability program thrive over several years.

Building on this track record, USC’s strategic plan commits that the ‘University will strengthen leadership in sustainability for the region and beyond’. One of the main initiatives to arise from this commitment was that USC should aim to be carbon neutral and should plan for this accordingly.

USC’s approach to developing a Carbon Management Plan (CMP)

A key priority for the CMP is that it be cost-effective through a program of actions over time that are similar in cost to or lower than the cost of not acting to reduce emissions. Initiatives that can drive this outcome were informed by a planned, systematic approach:

  • Carbon emissions data were analysed for all USC operations, and forecasts of future emissions developed based on known changes in facilities and expected growth in student numbers,
  • Extensive analysis of onsite energy efficiency and renewable energy opportunities was carried out,
  • A market-led proposal to develop a central thermal energy storage system and a large-scale onsite solar PV and storage project at the Sippy Downs campus was developed

The central element of the CMP development was the engagement with USC’s stakeholders, to present USC’s emissions forecasts, options for abatement, potential targets to aim for, and frameworks against which to measure and report on emissions. Workshops were held with key stakeholders from the USC executive, staff and student body to ensure a wide range of views and ideas were heard and considered.

USC’s recommended targets

The CMP development served to refine USC’s carbon neutral objective:

  • Carbon neutrality should be aligned to the National Carbon Offset Standard (NCOS)
  • Carbon neutrality should be achieved by 2025
  • A focus on in-house measures and renewable energy procurement is strongly preferred, with offsets purchased as a last step
  • USC should aim to make the Moreton campus carbon neutral from the beginning

The Carbon Management Plan (CMP)

The CMP will be underpinned by a robust emissions measurement methodology aligned with NCOS. This will develop over time as data management systems for small sites and some Scope 3 emissions are improved. The proposed data management approach is illustrated in Figure 1 below.

Figure 1: Staged inclusion for emission sources
Figure 1: Staged inclusion for emission sources

Initiatives to be implemented under the CMP were developed based on estimated future emissions for an extensive Scope 3 boundary for all campuses.

The CMP is divided into three themes:

  1. Management – management and governance of the CMP
  2. Carbon abatement – carbon reduction measures that form part of the journey to carbon neutrality
  3. Engagement – ensuring that both students and staff are engaged so that the actions of the CMP are supported

Based on assessed and recommended investments, marginal abatement cost (MAC) curves were developed to illustrate the cost-effectiveness of the planned CMP over time. Figure 2 below illustrates the MAC for the university’s plan at 2040, when most of the investments have paid for themselves and are returning a positive cashflow to USC.

Figure 2: Marginal Abatement Cost Curve for USC at 2040
Figure 2: Marginal Abatement Cost Curve for USC at 2040

The MAC curves illustrate that there are several highly cost-effective abatement measures that will pay for themselves within a few years. They also show that investment in rooftop solar – even at significant scale – is cheaper than offsetting emissions. The overall outcome in cost terms to USC will be cash positive.

If you would like to find out more about USC’s journey, please download our presentation here:

100% Renewables can help you with the development of your carbon management or carbon neutral strategy. For more information, 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 and renewable energy commitments in Australia by states, territories and local governments

Update October 2018:
Please note that this blog post is outdated and that you can find a new version for local governments here.

We have been tracking ambitious sustainability commitments made by local governments since we developed the Renewable Energy Master Plan for Lismore City Council in 2014. In May 2017, we had enough material to publish our first blog post on the energy and carbon commitments of states, territories and local governments. Over the course of just one year, many new commitments have been made which reflect the increased expectation in the community that governments take action on climate change and move to a clean energy future.

With all these new commitments we thought it was time to publish the updates in a blog post. Below are three tables that showcase the commitments of states and territories, followed by capital cities, and local governments.

States’ and territories’ commitments

States and territories are committing to both renewable energy as well as carbon reduction targets.

State or territoryCommitments
Australia20% from renewable energy sources by 2020
26-28% emissions reduction from 2005 levels by 2030
ACT100% renewable electricity by 2020
40% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions on 1990 levels by 2020
Zero net emissions by 2050
NSW20% from renewable energy in line with the RET
Zero net emissions by 2050
NT50% renewable energy by 2030
SA50% renewable energy by 2025 (75% by 2025 now proposed by SA Govt)
Zero net emissions by 2050
QLD50% renewable energy by 2030
Zero net emissions by 2050
VIC40% renewable energy by 2025
Zero net emissions by 2050
TAS100% renewable energy by 2022
Commitment to establish a zero net emissions target by 2050

Capital cities’ commitments

Australian capital cities have mostly committed to carbon reduction goals, with many of them targeting or having already achieved carbon neutral/net zero emissions status.

Capital CityCommitment
ACT GovernmentCarbon neutral by 2020
City of AdelaideZero net emissions from council operations by 2020
First carbon neutral town by 2050
Brisbane City CouncilCarbon neutral council from 2017
Melbourne City CouncilCarbon neutral council by 2020
City of PerthReduce council emissions by 20% by 2020
Facilitate a 32% reduction in citywide emissions by 2031
City of SydneyReduce emissions by 70% for the LGA by 2030
50% renewable energy for the LGA by 2030
Net zero emissions for the LGA by 2050

Local governments’ and LGAs’ commitments

This table showcases ambitious carbon and energy commitments by local governments and their communities. While there are many more councils with carbon reduction and renewable energy commitments, this table focuses on the ones that have committed to going all the way – to 100% renewable energy, or zero net emissions.

Council or Local Government AreaCommitment
Byron Shire Council100% renewable energy by 2027
Net zero emissions by 2025
Byron Bay communityPlan for first zero net emissions community
City of Greater Bendigo100% renewable energy by 2036
Coffs Harbour City Council100% renewable energy by 2030
Eurobodalla Shire Council100% renewable energy by 2030
City of FremantleOperations carbon neutral by 2020
100% renewable energy by 2025
Zero carbon for LGA by 2025
Gold Coast City CouncilCarbon neutral by 2020
City of Greater GeelongZero carbon council by 2050
Lismore City CouncilSelf-generate all electricity needs from renewable sources by 2023
Mullumbimby100% renewable energy by 2020
Newstead Village100% renewable energy by 2017
City of ParramattaCarbon neutral by 2022 with 60% emissions reduction by 2038 based on 2015 levels
Port Macquarie-Hastings Council100% renewable energy by 2027
City of Port PhillipZero net emissions by 2020
Tweed Shire Council100% renewable energy
Tyalgum VillageOff the grid, 100% renewable energy, with batteries
Uralla TownPlan to be first zero net energy town
Yackandandah Town100% renewable energy by 2022

 

To meet ambitious renewable energy commitments, councils have two options. They can either build mid-scale plants to meet their operational energy needs, or they can go to market to purchase offsite renewables. The following two sections showcase a few examples for each option.

Local governments with mid-scale developments

In this section, we want to capture where local governments look at mid-scale (also customer-scale) developments. These are renewable energy installations that typically range from 0.5MW to 15MW in size. The energy output from these plants is meant to cover all or part of the operational energy needs of a council but could be oversized to also cover the power needs of the community.

In July 2017, the Sunshine Coast Council became the first local government in Australia to offset its entire electricity consumption from its Valdora solar farm. The council estimates that over the 30 years lifetime of the project, it will save $22m compared to grid electricity costs.

2017 saw the start of mid-scale developments by councils, but this market has big potential going forward. Electricity prices are volatile, while the price for renewables has fallen sharply, and the price for LGCs (Large-Scale Generation Certificates) remains high. Several councils are currently developing or considering implementing a mid-scale plant before 2020 to make sure they can sell LGCs into the market.

Project developerMid-scale and similar noteworthy developments
Sunshine Coast CouncilValdora solar farm, 15 MW, commissioned in 2017
Newcastle Council5 MW Summerhill solar farm on capped landfill site, currently being constructed
City of Fremantle4.9 MW solar farm on former South Fremantle landfill site, currently going through Development Application process
ACTAs part of its 100% renewable energy commitment, the ACT has facilitated the construction of three solar PV farms within the ACT, including Royalla (20 MW), Mt Majura (2.3 MW) and Mugga Lane (13 MW) via its reverse auction process.

 

Local governments purchasing renewable energy

We are introducing a new category in this blog post, which is the purchasing of renewable energy from offsite projects. There are many ways how renewable energy can be procured, for example by purchasing GreenPower from a provider, purchasing LGCs in the spot market, or by entering into a corporate Power Purchase Agreement (PPA). In this section, we will focus on PPAs. Renewable energy purchasing via PPAs can be a cost-effective way to deliver on commitments to reduce carbon emissions, achieve zero net emissions, or meet renewable energy targets.

In 2016/17, it was mostly corporations like Telstra or Sun Metals that entered into Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) with project developers. However, recently, the Melbourne Renewable Energy Project marked the first time in Australia that a group of local governments (City of Melbourne, Moreland City Council, City of Yarra, City of Port Phillip), universities and corporations collectively purchased renewable energy from a newly built wind farm.

The recent RFP by the Southern Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (SSROC) is another example of where a buying group has gone out to market to procure offsite renewables. One of the prerequisites for a successful tendering process was to proceed if the achieved PPA price was cheaper than the grid.

Local government offtakerOffsite Power Purchase Agreement
Southern Sydney Regional Organisation of CouncilsBundled offtake agreement (electricity and LGCs)
Will only proceed if cheaper than grid
Melbourne Renewable Energy Project – buyers groupContract structure accommodates both bundles offtake agreements, as well as LGC-only

 

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. You can also contact us for a copy of the commitment graphics – they are available as standalone JPGs for each government level.