Tag Archives: case study

How to fill gaps in your sustainability data

A standard part of our work is the calculation of energy and carbon footprints. For an energy or carbon footprint, you need to collect sustainability activity data like electricity, natural gas, fuel consumption or waste.

In a perfect world, all required historical and current data would be available in easily accessible form and would always be accurate. Unfortunately, as you may have experienced yourself, this is not always the case. In this blog post, we will show you 3 common ways how you can fill missing sustainability data gaps.

Problems with collecting sustainability data

Common problems with collecting sustainability data include the following:

  1. Incomplete time series: Data may only be available for a few months of the year, it may be available for one year but not another, or the most recent data is not yet available.
  2. Out-dated data: You may require a data set annually, but the data may only be available less frequently. An example for this is waste data based on audits, which are performed infrequently.
  3. Partial data: You may be able to get one data set easily, but not another, or you may only have data for part of your organisation, but not another.
  4. Unreliable data: Data may available, but with obvious inconsistencies.

Three common techniques to overcome sustainability data gaps

In this blog post, we will show you three ways to overcome sustainability data gaps:

  1. Interpolation
  2. Extrapolation
  3. Scaling

You need to carefully evaluate your specific circumstances and determine the best option for your particular case. You may also be able to use more than one method for a specific problem and then make a final decision as to what method gives you the best result.

Interpolation of sustainability data

You can estimate missing data in a timeseries by interpolating between those periods. The method for interpolation can be linear or more sophisticated. Linear interpolation means that you are drawing a straight between the edges of your data gap. More sophisticated methods will allow you to account for more subtle features in your trend.

Figure 1: Using interpolation for data gaps

Please note that if your data fluctuates significantly, using interpolation will not give you the best result. It is good practice to compare interpolated estimates with surrogate/proxy data (see ‘Scaling’ section) as a quality control check.

Extrapolation of sustainability data

You will need to extrapolate your sustainability data to produce estimates for years after your last available data point and before new data is available. Extrapolation is similar to interpolation, but less is known about the trend.

Extrapolation can be conducted either forward (to predict future emissions or energy consumption) or backward, to estimate a base year, for instance. Trend extrapolation assumes that the observed trend during the period for which data is available remains constant over the period of extrapolation. If the trend is changing, you should consider using proxy data (see next section).

Figure 2: Using extrapolation for data gaps

When you use the simple linear method, you extend the line from the end of your known data line. You can also use more sophisticated extrapolation methods to account for more subtle features in the data trend.

The longer the extrapolation projects into the future, the more uncertainty is introduced. However, it is better to have an estimate, than not to have one at all.

It is good practice to update projected graphs with real data as this becomes available and to subsequently update your projections.

Please note that extrapolation is not a good technique when the change in trend is not constant over time. In this case, you may consider using extrapolations based on surrogate data.

Scaling

Scaling works by applying a ratio of known data to your data gap. The ratio is called a ‘scaling factor’. Known data is called surrogate, or proxy data. Surrogate data is strongly correlated to sustainability data that is being extrapolated and is more readily available than the data gap you are trying to fill.

For instance, emissions from transport are related to how many kilometres you travelled. Energy consumption in a building is related to how many people use the building. Emissions from wastewater are related to the population number.

Figure 3: Using scaling for data gaps

In some cases, you may need to use regression analysis to identify the most suitable surrogate data. Using surrogate data can improve the accuracy of estimates developed by interpolation and extrapolation.

Common scaling factors include:

  • number of employees, square metres, operating hours, or population (for community greenhouse gas inventories)
  • economic factors like production output, revenue, or GDP (for community greenhouse gas inventories)
  • weather-related factors like heating degree days or cooling degree days

Case example for extrapolation using scaling

One of our clients was evaluating the adoption of a science-based target. Given that a target is set some time in the future, they needed to find out how much carbon emissions would grow in the absence of abatement measures. Calculating this trend would show the size of the reduction task going forward.

We approached this task by following these steps:

  1. Extrapolation of the available historical greenhouse gas emissions into the future by applying an assumed year-on-year growth scaling factor.
  2. Refinement of the estimated trend by plotting known plant closures and other identified changes onto the timeseries.
  3. Application of estimated future emission factors. Since the grid is getting greener with new renewable energy projects feeding into it, the greenhouse gases associated with electricity consumption for the same underlying use reduce over time.
  4. Development of emission reduction scenarios. Once the baseline emissions growth was estimated, we developed emission reduction scenarios based on energy efficiency and renewable energy opportunities.
  5. Development of a graph to communicate the findings to the management team.

As a result of this extrapolation, our client was able to make an informed decision as to the ambition level of their target, as well as a suitable timeframe.

Conclusion

Choosing the right method depends on an assessment of the volatility of the sustainability data trend, whether surrogate data is available and adequate, and the length of time activity data is missing. If you need help with filling in data gaps, you should consider getting expert advice.

100% Renewables are experts in dealing with data gaps and projecting trends. If you need help with managing your data, 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.

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

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

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

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

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

Three scenarios for electricity-based emissions

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

Scenario 1: no action

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

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

Scenario 2: action within council operations

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

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

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

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

Scenario 3: ambitious action on energy demand and supply

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

Energy demand action will:

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

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

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

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

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

Ambitious action is achievable and cost-effective

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

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

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

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

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

Development of the Climate Change Action Plan

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

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

Community workshops

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

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

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

Next steps

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

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

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

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.”

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.