Category Archives: Presentations

7 key learnings when engaging the community online

Running virtual community engagement sessions

Before Covid-19, we mostly ran community climate action engagement sessions face-to-face in town halls, community halls and the like. This approach ended abruptly in March this year, but the community’s desire to see action on climate has not.

To respond to this situation, our business, our local government clients, as well as their communities, have rapidly upskilled in the use of virtual conferencing tools like Zoom, Skype or Microsoft Teams. In addition, polling and other interactive software can be used to increase engagement, collaborate and capture communities’ needs and ideas for a clean energy future. We even started to use Zoom to deliver energy audits via online delivery, without us needing to be at the site physically.

Many of the benefits of delivering interactive community engagement online are obvious for us and our local government clients. No posters have to be created and printed. There are no venue hire or use costs, and staff do not have to work after hours multiple times. Travel time and costs are reduced, and there are no catering costs. All of this leads to a lower carbon footprint to deliver services, and workshops can be repeated many more times in a shorter timeframe.

However, to make virtual community climate action engagement workshops truly valuable as an alternative to the face-to-face town hall approach (or, in future, a complementary approach), the quality of the engagement needs to be as good online as it is face-to-face.

We have worked closely with our clients to make this happen. The purpose of this blog post is to share our seven key learnings of running virtual community engagement sessions.

Seven key learnings when engaging the community in online workshops

  1. Keep it short
  2. Define objectives and messaging
  3. Preparation is key
  4. Keep it interesting and engaging
  5. Do test runs
  6. Measure your success
  7. Capture learnings

 

1 Keep it short

With many people working full-time online and often from home, concentrating on one thing for more than 45 minutes to an hour is difficult. We have found it is best to keep community engagement sessions as short as possible.

For recent business and community engagement sessions for the City of Newcastle, we kept both sessions to one hour each. People were able to stay fully engaged, participate during their working day, and schedule the session among their other commitments.

2 Clearly define objectives and messaging

As with any workshop planning, you need to start with these two questions

  • Who are you communicating to?
  • What do you want to achieve from the engagement session?

If your Council is planning to use online engagement for climate action planning, the number of participants, language and structure will be different when communicating to businesses, as opposed to the general public. Ensuring your communication plan notes your target audiences and your overall objectives, and tailors how and what you will communicate is key to setting up for a successful online session.

3 Preparation is key

The following questions might help you plan your engagement session:

  • How will you market the event?
  • Will you survey the community ahead of the engagement session, and what will you ask them?
  • How will you handle registrations?
  • What content do you need to organise before the event?
  • How will you measure success?
  • Will you record the session, and do you need permission for this?
  • How will you follow up with participants?
  • Will you ask for feedback via your ‘Have your Say’ page, thank you emails, etc.?
  • Do you need to line up other people to help with the event management?
  • What will be the run sheet?
  • What notes will you and your speakers need to have during the session?

4 Keep it interesting and engaging throughout

‘Death by PowerPoint’ is definitely to be avoided. It is important to mix things up, to have different speakers, to use multimedia and most importantly, to give the audience a voice.

To give everyone a voice, if you have more than five people, use polling software to solicit input as well as discussion. Ask questions regularly during the session, displayed to participants, and have the community respond using their phones or their web browsers. Asking questions at specific junctions helps to ensure that energy levels are kept high.

If you have large groups, it can help to use ‘break-out room’ functions to get small groups to discuss topics and bring their insights, ideas or feedback to the wider group or to interactive polling or pinboards.

It also makes sense for the facilitator to monitor the chat so that issues and questions can be addressed in real time. An assistant can also perform this role, and raise key questions or themes to the facilitator for a response.

For sessions where only a select number of participants are present, such as with business engagement sessions, it works well to get participants to share their stories.

5 Do test runs

Practice makes perfect. You should run through the whole session as a small team to test whether it all aligns, how the energy flows during the session components, that all links and audio works, that links to videos, interactive polling and pinboards works, that break-out room functionality works, what the holding slide looks like, whether the timing works, handing over between speakers, testing the technical functionality – make sure everyone is familiar with it.

6 Measure your success

Define your measures of success upfront in your communication plan. Good measures of success are:

Before the engagement session:

  • Number of registrations

During the engagement session:

  • Number of people who participated
  • How many people stayed throughout the duration of the workshop as opposed to drop-outs.
  • Level of engagement

After the engagement session:

  • Social media chatter
  • Email feedback

7 Capture learnings

Every community engagement session yields new insights which can be used to make the next community engagement better than the previous. There is always room for improvement and for achieving excellence. What is important is that there is a debrief, in which learnings are shared amongst your team. Example of questions you can ask yourself are:

  • What worked, what didn’t?
  • Did the timing work?
  • Have the objectives of the engagement session been met?
  • Has the engagement delivered the desired results?
  • What information is being shared on social media post the event?
  • Have participants sent through any feedback emails?
  • What could we do better next time?

Case study – Community engagement for the new Climate Action Plan of the City of Newcastle

The City of Newcastle is currently updating its strategic approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and their city-wide move to a low carbon economy. This involves the revision and renewal of the existing 2020 Carbon and Water Management Action Plan, which has completed its term. The revised document will be published as the ‘2025 Climate Action Plan’.

The new Action Plan will account for Council’s achievements over the last decade, set new targets and outline innovative and sustainable programs. It will outline specific goals and priorities for the next five years and will provide a roadmap to achieve positive impacts such as:

  • Clean energy
  • Resource efficiency
  • Reducing emissions in the supply chain
  • Sustainable transport
  • Emissions targets
  • Vision for a low carbon city

As part of engaging the community in the development of this plan, 100% Renewables was hired to design and run two community engagement sessions, one for businesses, the other for the wider population. The purpose of the workshops was to gain the community’s opinions and ideas during the strategy development before the draft Plan goes to Public Exhibition later this year.

Business roundtable

Given that many of the City’s emissions come from industry, a business roundtable was organised with about 20 participants. The session started with Barbara, our Co-CEO, providing context around the development of the plan and by showing examples of best practice of global cities.

Then, Jonathan Wood from the NSW Government talked about the NSW’s Net Zero Plan, after which, Adam Clarke, Program Coordinator in the City Innovation and Sustainability, talked about council’s actions and what they have achieved thus far. Newcastle is the first council in NSW to achieve the status of being 100% renewable. Adam also showed an example of how the community can track towards net zero based on a model that we developed.

We also invited Hunter Water, MolyCop and the Uni of Newcastle to share their sustainability journey, which was received very well. After the formal presentations, we hosted a roundtable discussion to identify opportunities for how council and businesses can collaborate to achieve a net-zero emissions outcome.

Throughout the session, participants engaged by using the chat function, and by answering our polling questions.

Community information session

Ahead of the community information session, we asked the community to submit their top three topics and questions that they would like to see covered in the information session. More than 50 contributions were received which helped to shape the workshop.

On the day, around 80 people participated in the information session. Just like with the business roundtable, we had Jonathan talk about the NSW Net Zero Plan and Adam shared what council has achieved thus far. Regularly throughout the sessions, we polled the community to provide feedback and to get input on how council and the community can share the burden to achieve a net-zero emissions outcome.

At the end of the workshop, participants provided feedback via the chat function. Here are a couple of examples that was received:

  • “Thank you Barbara, Jonathan and Adam, really appreciate your time and City of Newcastle – excellent info session, looking forward to the next step in addressing the climate emergency – local govt plays a critical role in this, so it’s heartening to see CN taking a leadership role. “
  • “Thanks all, great presentation!”
  • “Thank you, a very interesting & new way of having a meeting!”

 

100% Renewables are experts in helping local governments develop their operational as well as their community climate change strategies and action plans. If you need help with community engagement, modelling emission reduction scenarios or establishing the carbon footprint of your community,  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.

Clear the Air BCSD Australia Summit

Last Tuesday 11th February 2020, 100% Renewables attended the Business Council for Sustainable Development (BCSD) Australia’s Clear the Air Australian Climate Action Summit, held at Parliament House in Canberra. The event was hosted in partnership with the Crawford School of Public Policy at the Australian National University (ANU), and was an opportunity to take stock of where we are as a country and within major sectors of the economy in terms of our response to the challenges of climate change.

Business Council for Sustainable Development (BCSD) Australia’s Clear the Air Australian Climate Action Summit, held at Parliament House in Canberra
Business Council for Sustainable Development (BCSD) Australia’s Clear the Air Australian Climate Action Summit held at Parliament House in Canberra

Some of the key take-outs we took from the 1-day conference were:

  • IKEA’s Australia / New Zealand CEO Jan Gardberg, is also the company’s Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO), highlighting that sustainability is central to business success. Jan noted “it’s a win win win to go all in on sustainability”, and IKEA’s rapid progress towards a circular business by 2030 is evidence of the company’s leadership and commitment. IKEA’s plans to launch home solar and battery storage at their stores during 2020 will also help their customers to accelerate their shift to a more sustainable society.
  • “Switch to renewable energy”, “electrify everything” remain two of the key and achievable ‘pillars’ in the deep decarbonisation of the Australian economy by mid-century, as highlighted by a panel including ClimateWorks Australia’s CEO Anna Skarbek and ANU’s Professor Frank Jotzo. Even under a no-policy scenario most of Australia’s power will come from renewables within a couple of decades. Electrification of heat and transport are challenging but developing rapidly.
  • Energy efficiency and energy productivity represent ongoing challenges, despite the fact that these measures can deliver a large chunk of Australia’s required decarbonisation at negative cost! Despite huge steps made by the commercial building sector, significant challenges remain to improve the efficiency of our residential building stock – both existing buildings and new construction, as highlighted by Luke Menzel, CEO of the Energy Efficiency Council. In the manufacturing sector, the Australian Alliance to Save Energy’s Jon Jutsen highlighted the fact that just 15% of energy generated actually performs useful work and services, and the A2SE’s goal to double our energy productivity by 2030 would have huge benefits for manufacturing and other sectors.
  • Lastly, the ACT’s Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability Shane Rattenbury spoke of the Territory’s continuing work to decarbonise the ACT, having achieved their target to be 100% renewables for electricity. The Minister noted that in committing to source electric vehicles (EVs) for new ACT Government fleet, the simple step of increasing their lease terms from three to four years was key in making the business case stack up. The ACT is already seeing huge drops in operating costs for EVs. The Minister also highlighted the ‘ambassadorial effect’ of EVs, where their use across the ACT often generates discussion between users and the public.

An overarching message is that accelerated action on climate change needs to be the new business-as-usual and already is for some businesses, many of the solutions are already viable and others are rapidly emerging, and most importantly leadership is critical to success. And don’t forget energy efficiency and productivity, which will boost your bottom line.

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.

Inaugural Energy Leaders Forum and Inspiration Award

The inaugural Energy Leaders Forum (ELF)

I’ve been asked by Luke Poliszcuk, director of ‘Energy Leaders’ to present my vision for the energy sector in 2020 at their inaugural forum on 27 November 2019. The idea of energy leaders quickly resonated with people and the event was sold out within a week of making tickets available.

Barbara Albert presenting at Energy Leaders Forum Sydney Nov 2019
Barbara Albert presenting at the Energy Leaders Forum in Sydney, Nov 2019

About Energy Leaders

Energy Leaders pledge their commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), focused on smart, clean, efficient energy solutions that benefit society as a whole. Energy Leaders Forum (ELF) events provide the opportunity to interact with like-minded professionals in the clean energy sector to discuss projects, challenges and solutions, galvanise industry engagement and spark investment opportunities.

About the event

I had the pleasure to share the stage with many wonderful speakers; Ben Hutt, CEO at Evergen, Jackie McKeon from BRC-A, Liz Floyd from Polyglot and Mary Hendriks from the Australian Energy Storage Alliance.

After each of us shared our vision for the sector with the audience, we facilitated small group discussions to get input from forum participants on what they thought the most exciting opportunities were in 2020. Among opportunities identified were utility-scale developments, VPPs, integrated energy solutions for the strata sector, battery storage, corporate PPAs, green hydrogen, going beyond 100% renewables and microgrids.

The Energy Leaders forum will also run annual awards for energy leadership and forum participants brainstormed potential award categories. I’m proud to say that each of the speakers was presented with the very first Energy Leader Inspiration Award.

Barbara Albert Energy Leaders Inspiration Award
Barbara Albert, Energy Leaders Inspiration Award

My vision for the energy sector in 2020

We have 10 years left to achieve meaningful action and to limit global warming. To achieve that, we need the government, businesses, and communities to work together to reduce emissions. In the past decade, global emissions have risen by 1.5% every year. If we continue with our current emissions growth, we will end up with plus 4 degrees.

If current Paris pledges are implemented, global temperatures are projected to rise by 3°C. To stay within a 1.5°C threshold, we need to reduce worldwide emissions by 7.6% every year to avoid a climate crisis.

This is a transformative, unprecedented change that is needed across all sectors. We all need to catch up on the years in which we have procrastinated. We need an acceleration of our efforts, and everything needs to be done faster.

Transforming the electricity sector and renewable energy are two of the easiest opportunities we have to achieve fast emission reduction.

It is my vision and hope that organisations and governments will use 2020 as an opportunity to set a new baseline, look to 2030 in terms of their emissions reduction and develop a plan for how to reduce emissions rapidly.

And I think this vision is supported by the following opportunities:

  1. Renewables have become cheaper than fossil fuel-based energy
  2. Electric vehicles are within reach
  3. RE100
  4. Ambitious commitments by local governments, communities, and the education sector
  5. BRC-A
  6. SBTi
  7. SDGs
  8. NCOS have rebranded to Climate Active and expect membership numbers to increase significantly
  9. NSW’s new energy strategy
  10. Investors driving climate change risk disclosure

The following video shows an excerpt of the speech I delivered.

100% Renewables are experts in helping organisations develop their renewable energy and carbon reduction strategies. To find out more how we can help you, 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.

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 that shows reduction actions and diminishing emissions

Another option of displaying an area chart is shown in Figure 5. In this area chart, the existing emission sources that reduce over time are not a focus, and instead, the emphasis is on emission reduction actions. You may prefer this version if there is a large number of reduction measures, or if you include fuel switching actions.

Figure 5: Example of an area chart which emphasises emission reduction actions



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 6: 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 7: Example of a Marginal Abatement Cost curve with a short time horizon

Figure 8: 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.”