Category Archives: Presentations

5 ways of visualising emission reduction pathways

Many of our services involve the development of emission reduction pathways, which greatly enhance climate change action plans. In this blog post, we will show you 5 common ways to visually display such a pathway. Seeing these different illustrations can help you to shape how you would like to present your own organisation’s pathway towards a low carbon future.

Introduction

What are emission reduction pathways?

Emission reduction pathways allow for the easy communication of

  • where your organisation is currently at in terms of greenhouse emissions (or energy consumption)
  • where you can be through the implementation of reduction measures that are feasible and cost-effective over time
  • where you would be in the absence of any measures to reduce emissions

Pathways usually start with your selected baseline year and end at some point in the future, typically at 2030, or when agreed or proposed targets are to be met.

What do emission reduction pathways cover?

Boundary:

Your emissions boundary will typically consider three things:

  • The level of an organisation or region you want to assess in terms of emissions reduction. This could be a single site, an asset class (e.g. community buildings), a Division in an organisation, a whole organisation, a town or community, and up to State and National levels.
  • The emissions and energy sources that you want to evaluate. For example, electricity, natural gas, petrol, diesel, refrigerants, waste, wastewater and so on.
  • The Scopes of emissions you want to include. Typically Scope 2 (electricity) is included, and material Scope 1 emissions (on-site combustion or direct emissions). Selected Scope 3 emissions may also be included, such as upstream emissions associated with energy usage and waste.

Units of measure:

The unit for reductions or savings to be modelled will typically be tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions, or a unit of energy, such as kilowatt-hours or megajoules.

What greenhouse gas reduction measures are considered in abatement pathways?

For most organisations greenhouse gas reduction measures usually relate to six high-level carbon abatement areas as shown in Figure 1 below, being

  • Energy efficiency
  • Management of waste and other Scope 3 emissions sources
  • Sustainable transport
  • Local generation of renewable energy such as rooftop solar PV
  • Grid decarbonisation
  • Buying clean energy and/or carbon offsets

These high-level categories can be further broken down into as many subcategories as relevant within your selected organisation boundary.

Figure 1: 6 categories for carbon reduction opportunities

The need for a graphical representation of emissions pathways

For many people, it is hard to engage with complex data presented in a table or report. In our experience, it is most effective if abatement potential can be shown in a graph. The visual representation of a carbon abatement pathway allows people to better grasp the overall opportunity for abatement, where this will come from, and the timeframes involved.

It also helps organisations to better communicate their plans to their stakeholders, be they internal or external. Simple and well-presented graphics can also help when seeking decisions to budget for and implement cost-effective measures.

5 ways to graphically represent emission reduction pathways

There are many different ways you can display an emissions reduction pathway; some are more suited to specific circumstances than others. The five examples we are using in this blog post are:

  1. Line chart
  2. Waterfall chart
  3. Area chart
  4. Column chart
  5. Marginal Abatement Cost Curve (MACC)

Let’s look at these examples in detail.

Example #1 – line chart

A line chart is a simple but effective way to communicate a ‘Business-as-usual’ or BAU pathway compared with planned or target pathways at a total emissions level for your selected boundary. Such a boundary could be comparing your whole-business projected emissions with and without action to reduce greenhouse gases.

This type of graph is also useful to report on national emissions compared with required pathways to achieve Australia’s Paris commitments, for example.

Figure 2: Example of a line chart

Example #2 – waterfall chart

A waterfall chart focuses on abatement measures. It shows the size of the abatement for each initiative, progressing towards a specific target, such as 100% renewable electricity, for example. It is most useful to highlight the relative impact of different actions, but it does not show the timeline of implementation.

Figure 3: Example of a waterfall chart

Example #3 – area graph

Area graphs show the size of abatement over time and are a great way to visualise your organisation’s potential pathway towards ambitious emissions reduction targets.

They do not explicitly show the cost-effectiveness of measures. However, a useful approach is to include only measures that are cost-effective now and will be in the future, so that decision-makers are clear that they are looking at a viable investment plan over time to lower emissions.

Figure 4: Example of an area chart

Example #4 – column graph

A column graph is similar to the area graph but allows for a clearer comparison between specific years compared with the continuous profile of an area graph. In the example column graph below, we are looking at Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions, as well as abatement in an organisation over a 25-year timeframe covering past and future plans.

In the historical part, for instance, we can see Scope 1 (yellow) and Scope 2 (blue) emissions in the baseline year. The impact of GreenPower® (green) on emissions can be seen in any subsequent year until 2018.

Going forward we can see in any projection year the mix of grid decarbonisation (red), new abatement measures (aqua) including fuel switching and renewables purchasing, as well as residual Scope 1 and 2 emissions.

Figure 5: Example of a column chart

Example #5 – Marginal Abatement Cost (MAC) Curve

MAC curves focus on the financial business case of abatement measures and the size of the abatement. MAC curves are typically expressed in $/t CO2-e (carbon), or in $/MWh (energy), derived from an assessment of the net present value of a series of investment over time to a fixed time in the future.

The two examples below show MAC curves for the same set of investments across an organisation. Figure 6 shows the outcome in 2030, whereas, in Figure 7, it is to 2040 when investments have yielded greater returns.

MAC curves are a good way to clearly see those investments that will yield the best returns and their contribution to your overall emissions reduction goal.

Figure 6: Example of a Marginal Abatement Cost curve with a short time horizon

Figure 7: Example of a Marginal Abatement Cost curve with a longer time horizon

Please note that no one example is superior over another. It depends on your preferences and what information you would like to convey to your stakeholders.

100% Renewables are experts in putting together emission reduction and renewable energy pathways. If you need help with determining your strategy, targets and cost-effective pathways, 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.

Shrinking your combined load profile [includes video]

In June, Barbara, our Co-CEO, presented at the Renewable Cities Australia conference at the International Convention Centre in Sydney. The topic of her talk was ‘Reaching ambitious energy efficiency and renewables’.

At the core of her speech was a demonstration of how the combined load profile of a typical metropolitan local council changes after the implementation of energy efficiency and onsite renewable energy.

Please note that a video of the ‘shrinking load profile’ is included at the bottom of this post.

What is a load profile?

A load profile shows how your energy demand changes over a 24-hour period, from meter data that your energy retailer can provide on request or via a web portal linked to your account.

Meter data starts and ends at midnight and is usually in half-hour or 15-minute intervals. The vertical axis shows your energy demand in kilowatts as it changes over this time. The less your energy demand, the lower the curve.

A load profile can also be called ‘interval data’ and is a very useful tool for analysing your energy consumption. For example, a load profile can identify equipment that is running unnecessarily at night or may show you spikes in your energy consumption that hint at inefficient operation of equipment. Changes in your profile from summer to spring or autumn can give you an idea of the energy use needed for cooling in a building.

You use load profiles to help you identify how you can be more energy efficient, and they can also help you to size your solar PV installation.

What is a combined load profile?

A combined load profile adds the demand for all your sites to show you the overall energy demand of your organisation. This information is particularly important when you buy energy via a renewable energy Power Purchase Agreement that is supply-linked.

Building up a combined load profile

In this blog post, we build a combined load profile for a metropolitan local government. Figure 1 shows the combined demand of small sites, like small libraries, amenities blocks, community halls and childcare centres.

Energy demand typically rises sharply in the morning as people start to use these facilities, and it falls as people leave them in the evening. At night there is usually demand for appliances, small servers and emergency and exit lights.

Figure 1: The energy demand of small sites

Now, we are adding the electricity demand for large sites on top of the small sites. Examples for large sites are central administration offices & chambers, depots and aquatic centres. Night demand for depots and offices may be low with good after-hours controls. However, pools are usually heated all the time and can be energy-intensive at night.

Figure 2: The energy demand of large sites

The surprising thing for metropolitan councils is that most of the energy demand happens at night, through streetlighting, which runs from dusk until dawn. Streetlights can consume as much as half of a metropolitan council’s electricity! This creates a combined profile with high demand at night and a big dip in demand during the day.

Figure 3: The energy demand of streetlighting

Lastly, we add parks and sporting fields. Most of the energy demand for sporting fields is lighting and irrigation, so naturally, this demand also occurs from late in the evening (sporting field lights) to early morning (irrigation).

Figure 4: The energy demand of parks, ovals and fields

The impact of onsite energy efficiency and renewable energy measures on the combined demand profile

Now that we have a load profile that aggregates energy demand across all sites, let’s implement onsite abatement measures such as energy efficiency and solar PV.

So that you can see the impact of these measures, we are providing a visual cue to show you where our starting line is, because now we start subtracting.

Figure 5: Implementing onsite measures

Energy efficient lighting for parks and sporting fields

LED lighting replacements and smart controls for parks, ovals and fields can lead to a 40-70% reduction in energy demand. At the same time, you may improve your service provision through better lighting, more activated fields and higher utilisation. The net benefit is shown in Figure 6. A reduction in energy demand brings down the whole load profile from the starting point.

Figure 6: Lighting replacement for parks, ovals and fields

Figure 7 shows the impact of a bulk upgrade to LED lighting for local roads. LED streetlights are 60-80% more energy efficient than older technologies such as Compact Fluorescents or Mercury Vapour.

Figure 7: Streetlighting upgrade for local roads

Figure 8 shows the impact of a bulk upgrade to LED lighting for main roads, with similar levels of savings as local roads. Smart controls such as dimming can further increase savings for streetlights.

Figure 8: Streetlighting upgrade for main roads

Implementing energy efficiency improvements to lights, air conditioning, IT systems, appliances, motor systems and building controls at your facilities can achieve at least a 10% reduction, but more might be achievable. It depends on your individual circumstances and what measures you have implemented in the past.

Figure 9: Energy efficiency at Council sites

Installing onsite solar PV

Figure 10 shows the impact of installing onsite solar PV at your sites. You can see the dip in the load profile in the middle of the day, as the solar energy generation reaches its maximum.

Figure 10: Impact on Solar PV

Battery storage will allow further savings in your electricity and peak demand. Figure 11 illustrates how stored solar energy can reduce a building’s peak demand in the afternoon when peak demand charges might apply, thus reducing power bills.

Figure 11: More Solar PV and battery energy storage

What the load profile was and what it could be

So, we have implemented a number of cost-effective efficiency and renewable energy measures, and we can see that demand has reduced significantly. Figure 12 shows what the load profile looked like before implementation of any actions, and what it could be through energy efficiency and onsite solar PV.

Before you think about switching your electricity supply to offsite renewables (e.g. through a Power Purchase Agreement), you should consider the changes behind-the-meter measures like energy efficiency and solar PV can make to your energy demand, and how this can lower the amount of energy you need to buy over time.

Figure 12: Summary of what load profile is and what it could be

Switching your electricity supply to renewables

Figure 13 shows what remains of your original load profile. The next step will be to switch from conventional electricity supply to 100% renewable energy. This can be staged over time or may be possible all in one go.

Figure 13: Offsite opportunities like PPAs

Goals achieved!

In our experience, by implementing onsite energy efficiency and renewable energy measures, you can save 30-40% in electricity demand. By switching your supply to renewables, you can also achieve 100% renewable energy.

Figure 14: Goals Achieved!

You can watch a video of the shrinking load profile here:

Would you like to see how much you could reduce your load profile?

100% Renewables are experts in helping organisations develop their renewable energy strategies and timing actions appropriately. If you need help with analysing your load profile and with developing your renewable energy 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.

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

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

Development of the Climate Change Action Plan

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

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

Community workshops

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

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

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

Next steps

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can watch the video with our animations here:

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

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

How Eurobodalla Council evaluated its options to reach 100% renewable energy at the same or lower cost than grid electricity

Speakers, from left to right: Patrick Denvir from 100% Renewables, David West from Sourced Energy, Barbara Albert from 100% Renewables and Mark Shorter from Eurobodalla Council
Speakers, from left to right: Patrick Denvir from 100% Renewables, David West from Sourced Energy, Barbara Albert from 100% Renewables and Mark Shorter from Eurobodalla Council

On 9 October, 100% Renewables in conjunction with our partner organisation Sourced Energy presented to a group of NSW Government representatives on Sourcing Renewable Energy, using the example of Eurobodalla Shire Council’s Renewable Energy Options Analysis. The presentation was also broadcast via a webinar to NSW Councils participating in OEH’s Sustainability Advantage program.

About Eurobodalla Council’s renewable energy goals

Eurobodalla Council has a goal to source 100% of its electricity from renewables by 2030 as per its Emission Reduction Plan 2017-2021. The plan also has two additional goals to reduce emissions by 25% by 2020 and by 80% by 2030 for council operations.

With a strong track record of carbon abatement, Eurobodalla Council has already reduced its emissions by 35%. Despite the target of 100% renewable energy being 12 years away, Eurobodalla Council wanted to look at their options now, for a number of reasons:

  • Council is coming off its electricity contract at the end of 2018 and faces much higher prices
  • Some councillors and the community were interested in the recent developments in local government-owned solar farms, like the ones by Newcastle and the Sunshine Coast councils
  • Recent developments in renewable Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs), like the SSROC PPA
  • Council had also received an offer from a private developer for a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) and another offer for a Virtual Generation Agreement via a PPA.

With several offers on the table and given the uncertainty and volatility in the energy market, Eurobodalla wanted to get independent, expert advice on the viability of these options. They selected 100% Renewables and partner organisation Sourced Energy to help them navigate the options and put recommendations forward.

Renewable energy options assessment

100% Renewables performed an analysis of three different business cases:

  1. Build and own a ~10 MW solar farm in the LGA
  2. Co-invest in a 30 MW solar farm via a Public Private Partnership
  3. Contract directly via a Power Purchase Agreement
Figure 1: Evaluated options for Eurobodalla Council to achieve 100% renewable energy
Figure 1: Evaluated options for Eurobodalla Council to achieve 100% renewable energy

We evaluated each option in terms of how well it was able to meet the objectives of ‘cost’, meaning achieving the same or lower than grid price, ‘sustainability’, meaning the need to achieve a 100% renewables goal, and ‘risk’, meaning the reduction of risk to an acceptable level.

Figure 2: Finding the best-fit 100% renewable energy solution
Figure 2: Finding the best-fit 100% renewable energy solution

Our findings

For all of the options considered, a major factor limiting Eurobodalla – and other councils – from sourcing 100% renewables cost effectively is a ministerial order that prevents councils from entering into “contracts for difference”, a contracting method that underpins many ‘corporate PPAs’ in the market. In effect, this means that all options must consider Council’s load and timing of energy demand, and look to sculpt solutions that align with this demand while managing differences between renewable energy generation and demand via load balancing strategies.

Our analysis found that in the current environment, a PPA is the lowest-risk and easiest-to-implement option for Eurobodalla Council, but sourcing 100% renewables is unlikely to be feasible at this time. Council should seek to incorporate the purchase of large-scale renewable energy from the start of the next electricity contract period using a shorter-term agreement where it is found to be financially viable and has no additional risk when compared to a regular retail contract.

Council should also consider forming a buying group or partnering with other councils in the region or state to increase the size of the electricity (including renewable energy) load to be contracted and to increase the attractiveness of the opportunity to retailers, potentially leading to lower cost outcomes.

The build options evaluated offer a fairly low return in the short term, require substantial upfront investment and carry some delivery risk. The current uncertain policy environment plays an important part in this outcome, particularly for mid-sized projects. At this time, build options for Council should be a lower priority for investment, but can and should be re-visited as build and implementation costs reduce further and the policy environment changes.

Conclusion

While in the case of Eurobodalla Shire Council, the ‘build’ case was only marginal, your situation might be different. If you are unsure as to whether you should ‘build’ or ‘buy’, please call/email Barbara or Patrick for an informal chat.

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.”

Bioresources Hub in the Hunter, Sunshine Coast Council Solar Farm and EDQ’s Aldoga Solar Farm

Barbara Albert from 100% Renewables and Simon Crock from the Sunshine Coast Council at the RDAC 2018
Barbara Albert from 100% Renewables and Simon Crock from the Sunshine Coast Council at the RDAC 2018

Last week, Barbara Albert from 100% Renewables proudly chaired the Renewable Energy and Energy Supply stream at the Regional Development Australia Conference in Tweed, NSW.

Mayor Katie Milne from Tweed Shire Council kicked off the conference, followed by the Hon. Ben Franklin, Parliamentary Secretary for Renewable Energy and Northern NSW, who talked about the NSW Government’s perspective on regional development. Barbara had the pleasure to chair three presentations on renewable energy projects across New South Wales and Queensland.

Case study 1: Building a Bioresources Hub in the Upper Hunter

The first presentation was ‘Building a Bioresources Hub in the Upper Hunter’ by Gerry Bobsien from Muswellbrook Shire Council. The talk focused on the energy transition underway in the Hunter region and the opportunity this presents for renewable energy. The two coal-fired power stations located in the Muswellbrook Shire will be retired in 2022 (Liddell) and 2035 (Bayswater).

Muswellbrook Shire Council has an active economic diversification agenda and is working with a range of regional stakeholders to foster new energy jobs in the region. The purpose of establishing a bioresources hub in the Hunter is to create an innovation incubator to drive biorenewable research through to commercial deployment. Muswellbrook Shire Council supports an initiative being driven by the University of Newcastle’s International Centre for Balanced Land Use, to promote the region as a ‘BioValley’ with valuable assets such as:

  • Skills (close proximity to a major university)
  • Biomass (large underutilised land associated with mine buffers and rehabilitation sites)
  • Grain transport rail corridor to the port of Newcastle.

According to a recent federal government report, there are 5 million tonnes of underutilised biomass resources in NSW. Access to the rail corridor could potentially deliver these feedstocks to the Upper Hunter to support a biorenewables industry.

Case study 2: Sunshine Coast Solar Farm

The second presentation was on the ‘Sunshine Coast Solar Farm’ by Simon Crock from Sunshine Coast Council. Between 2014 and 2017 Queensland paid one of the highest prices for electricity compared to other states and the Sunshine Coast Council’s expense on electricity kept rising. At the same time, renewable energy became cheaper which led Council to build their own solar farm to supply them with affordable renewable electricity.

The Council went to market for an Engineer, Procure and Construct (EPC) contract for the 15MW Valdora solar farm in FY13/14 and signed the contract with Downer in 2016. At the same time, Council went to market for retail electricity services and selected Diamond Energy for their Electricity Supply Agreement and Power Purchase Agreement.

Figure 1 below shows the Business-As-Usual load profile for Council. As can be seen, Council’s daytime consumption exceeds their night time usage. Council pays higher rates during peak times, compared to offpeak. Such a load profile is ideally suited to a solar farm.

Typical BAU load profile for Council.
Figure 1: Typical BAU load profile for Council.

Figure 2 shows the typical generation output profile of the solar farm. The renewable energy plant delivers the most energy in the middle of the day when insolation is strongest.

2: Typical solar farm renewable energy generation
Figure 2: Typical solar farm renewable energy generation

Combining the solar farm’s output with Council’s load profile results in the renewable energy generation offsetting Council’s daytime usage. Excess electricity that is being generated is sold to the market at the spot price.

How the Solar Farm offsets Council's electricity consumption
Figure 3: How the Solar Farm offsets Council’s electricity consumption

At night, Council still has to buy electricity to cover night-time use. Streetlighting was kept on a separate, fixed-price contract to avoid the risk of offpeak electricity spot price spikes.

Electricity revenue and expenses
Figure 4: Electricity venue and expenses

Case study 3: Delivering Solar Differently in the Sunshine State

The third presentation was on ‘Delivering Solar Differently in the Sunshine State’ and was held by Lavinia Dack and Brooke Walters by Economic Development Queensland (EDQ).

Queensland has a target to supply 50% of its electricity needs from renewables by 2030. It has an average of over 300 days of sunshine a year, which makes it ideal for the development of solar farms. As part of the Queensland Government’s Advancing our cities and regions strategy, which aims to renew underutilised state land to generate jobs and drive economic growth, EDQ embarked on an analysis of current land holdings to identify if there was a site suitable for renewable energy.

A 1,250-hectare site in Aldoga, Gladstone was identified as favourable due to its proximity to a cost-effective, high voltage network, suitable land conditions and good solar irradiance. Acciona Energy was selected as EDQ’s partner. Key aspects of the agreement are the

  • Delivery of a 265MW solar farm
  • Lease period of 30 years that maximises interim land use with ongoing income
  • Improvements to the land with services and roads ideal for future industry attraction
  • Giving back to locals through a community benefit fund for the life of the project

 

It was a pleasure to be the chair of these wonderful presentations. If you are interested in your clean energy becoming a case study for others, why not consider working with 100% Renewables. We are experts in energy efficiency, renewables and net zero, and help is just a short phone call away. Call Barbara if you’d like more information. 1300 102 195.

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.”

Financing options for sustainability projects for councils

Barbara Albert from 100% Renewables presenting on financing options for sustainability projects for councils
Barbara Albert from 100% Renewables presenting on financing options for sustainability projects for councils

Last week, 100% Renewables was asked to present at a webinar run by the Sustainability Advantage Program from the Office of Environment and Heritage about financing options for councils. Topics covered were why you need a funding strategy, how to align it with broader organisational strategies and plans, a detailed discussion about various funding options, how a financing strategy can be integrated into organisational planning and developing an optimal financing strategy.

Why you need a financing strategy for sustainability projects

Most sustainability initiatives require some sort of financing, and it pays to plan ahead so that you can seamlessly execute your environmental strategy and reach your stated targets. Knowing beforehand what your needs will be will also make sure that you are ready to submit your business cases in line with budgetary cycles.

Free Download: Financing Options for Sustainability Projects

Aligning your financing strategy

A funding strategy for local governments is not a standalone document – it needs to tie into broader strategies like the Community Strategic Plan, delivery and operational plans, as well as the sustainability strategy. Figure 1 shows the hierarchy of organisational alignment.

Aligning a local government's financing strategy with strategic and operational plans
Aligning a local government’s financing strategy with strategic and operational plans

11 funding options for local governments

Traditionally, local governments have funded their sustainability initiatives either from the budget or through a loan. However, there are many more options available. In the webinar, Barbara covered 11 funding options for councils, along with pros and cons for each option, as well as an indication of the challenge to establish and maintain them and a few case studies. You can find the 11 financing options in the list below.

  1. Pre-existing and future incentives and grants, free money
  2. Environmental levy/Special Rate Variation, internal funding
  3. Self-financed through the normal budgeting process, internal funding
  4. Self-financed through a Revolving Energy Fund (REF), internal funding
  5. Internal carbon price, internal funding
  6. Loan financed, Council borrows
  7. Equipment lease, third-party funding
  8. On-bill financing, third-party funding
  9. Onsite solar Power Purchase Agreements, third-party funding
  10. Energy Performance Contracts, third-party funding
  11. Community energy projects, third-party funding

It’s important that you keep in mind that these funding options are not mutually exclusive and that your funding strategy will most likely contain a mix of these.

What are the most suitable financing options for your council?

Every council’s needs, circumstances and objective are different, so a financing strategy needs input from senior management to make sure that it is fit for purpose. Here are two ideas for how you could filter out suitable financing options from the list above.

  1. Run a workshop with the leadership team and other key organisational stakeholders in which you go through all financing options and let the group determine the most suitable ones.
  2. Present a shortlist of pre-evaluated financing options to the leadership team so that they can provide feedback.

Both options lead to the development of a pathway for implementing your optimal financing strategy.

Defining your optimal financing strategy for your sustainability projects

In most cases, your optimal financing strategy is based around four different ways detailed in Figure 2. The best money is always free money, which you can access through grants and incentives. Grants are only available at certain times, and it is best to have projects shovel-ready, so you can submit when the time comes.

Incentives like Small-Scale Technology Certificates (STCs), Large-Scale Generation Certificates (LGCs) and Energy Savings Certificates in NSW (ESCs) will make the business case of investments more attractive, as there will be additional income streams for your energy projects.

Optimal financing strategy for sustainability projects for local governments
Figure 2: Optimal financing strategy for sustainability projects for local governments

The second-best option for councils from a financial-return-perspective is to finance projects internally. If you spend money from your funds (e.g., General, Water/Sewer, or Streetlighting Funds), you will be able to enjoy all energy project savings, without having to pay interest or sharing the benefits with another party.

The third-best option is to borrow money, which is typically done for capital-intensive projects. Councils have access to very favourable interest rates, but the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) might also be able to co-fund your project, so it is worthwhile enquiring with them.

If you don’t want ownership of your energy project and you are happy to split the financial benefits with another party, you can also consider third-party financing through solutions like leasing, onsite solar PPAs, community energy projects or Energy Performance Contracts (EPCs).

Download Free Financing Options for Sustainability Projects

If you need help with a financing strategy for your sustainability plan and you want to run your ideas past our energy experts, why not contact Barbara or Patrick for an informal chat.

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.

Our growth journey from 2015 to 2018

Barbara Albert from 100% Renewables presenting at the CSIRO Innovation Forum

A few weeks ago, we were asked to deliver a presentation on our growth journey at the CSIRO Business Innovation Forum in Sydney. This opportunity allowed us to reflect on our achievements to date and to share our story with you.

In 2009, Barbara started her business Sustainable Business Consulting, and Patrick started his business Patrick Denvir Consulting two years later. In 2011, Barbara was looking for ‘the best energy expert’ and was referred to Patrick by the NSW Government. Thus began our journey in business.

Having collaborated on numerous projects, in 2014 Sustainable Business Consulting was selected to develop the Renewable Energy Master Plan for Lismore City Council, which was the first Council in Australia to commit to 100% renewable energy.

After successfully developing this plan, we were then selected to develop renewable energy master plans for Coffs Harbour and Port Macquarie-Hastings Councils who both committed to 100% renewable energy as well. It was then that we decided to make helping business transition to clean energy our main business purpose.

To reflect our new purpose, we merged our two businesses in 2015 and named it ‘100% Renewables’. Our business grew rapidly over the following 18 months, leading to a need for us to find the time and space to plan strategically for the future. In mid-2017 an opportunity came along and we joined the ACU Collaboration Space. Since joining, we have been able to plan ahead, develop strategic partnerships, find a business mentor, grow our business and hire new staff! The Collaboration space has been a major catalyst in helping our business take the step from a partnership of two to a small business of six and growing.

If you are interested in how we have grown, we’d love for you to watch our Youtube video. If you have any feedback, please do not hesitate to share it with us. We look forward to helping you with YOUR journey to a clean energy future.

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

Three case studies of local governments in NSW ramping up renewables

Today, 100% Renewables presented at the Renewable Cities Conference in Adelaide in a session with Alix Pearce from Cities Power Partnership and chaired by Monica Oliphant AO. The forum brings together local governments, people interested in climate change action at the city level and leading organisations wanting to be more sustainable. Barbara Albert, director at 100% Renewables is proud to have been a member of the advisory board of Renewable Cities since 2016.

In her presentation, Barbara highlighted nearly 25 cities and local governments in Australia who have committed to be either carbon neutral or to source 100% of their electricity from renewables.  Three case studies describing the initiatives being undertaken by Councils within their operations and in the community were presented.

North Sydney Council is one of a few local governments with a target to reduce emissions and increase the uptake of renewables in the community. Council has already reduced its own footprint through energy efficiency, on-site renewables, and by purchasing GreenPower®. When developing plans to help the community implement more renewable energy, an emphasis was placed on identifying the key stakeholders – renters, landlords, homeowners, apartment dwellers – and tailoring solutions that can meet their specific needs. Council has now begun to engage with technology and solution providers and to link these to stakeholder groups.

The second case study looks at innovative projects like floating solar and solar farms at customer scale. The featured councils are:

  • Lismore City Council with the largest floating solar installation in Australia at a wastewater treatment plant (100 kW), and plans to expand this system in the near future
  • Newcastle City Council with a 5 MW solar farm currently being constructed on a capped landfill site
  • Sunshine Coast Council with a 15 MW solar farm which has been supplying all of Council’s energy needs for over a year

The third case study describes Power Purchase Agreements and how metropolitan councils can benefit from long-term contracts that hedge their electricity prices, secure their energy supply and help them meet sustainability targets.

100% Renewables recorded this presentation, please click on the video below. You may also wish to subscribe to our Youtube channel for any further videos.

100 % Renewables helps large energy users, especially councils with transitioning to renewables. If you have a renewable energy or carbon reduction project you need help with, 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.