Tag Archives: energy efficiency

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.

Science-based targets in a nutshell

Target-setting in line with science

In 2015, close to 200 of the world’s governments committed to prevent dangerous climate change by limiting global warming to well below 2°C in the landmark Paris Agreement. However, total human-caused carbon emissions continue to increase. Under current trajectories, global mean temperatures are projected to grow by 2.2°C to 4.4°C by the end of this century.

Your organisation has a pivotal role in ensuring that the global temperature goals are met, but most existing company targets are not ambitious enough to achieve this.

What are science-based targets?

Science-based targets (SBT) are greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets that are consistent with the level of decarbonisation that is required to keep global temperature increase within 1.5 to 2°C compared to pre-industrial temperature levels.

SBTs are consistent with the long-term goal of reaching net zero emissions in the second half of this century as per the Paris Agreement. SBTs provide a trajectory for companies to reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

The Science-Based Targets initiative (SBTi)

The SBTi is a collaboration between CDP, the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC), World Resources Institute (WRI), and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). The SBTi enables you to demonstrate your climate change leadership by publicly committing to science-based GHG reduction targets.

The overall aim of the initiative is that by 2020 science-based target setting will become standard business practice and corporations will play a major role in ensuring we keep global warming well below a 2°C increase.

Components for science-based target-setting methods

SBT target-setting methods are complex and should be considered in the context of your operations and value chains. Generally, science-based target-setting methods have three components:

  • Carbon budget (defining the overall amount of greenhouse gases that can be emitted to limit warming to 1.5°C and well-below 2°C),
  • An emissions scenario (defining the magnitude and timing of emissions reductions) and,
  • An allocation approach (defining how the carbon budget is allocated to individual companies).

Target setting approaches

There are three science-based target (SBT) setting approaches. As defined by SBTi:

  1. Sector-based (convergence) approach: The global carbon budget is divided by sector, and then emission reductions are allocated to individual companies based on its sector’s budget.
  2. Absolute-based (contraction) approach: The per cent reduction in absolute emissions required by a given scenario is applied to all companies equally.
  3. Economic-based (contraction) approach: A carbon budget is equated to global GDP, and a company’s share of emissions is determined by its gross profit since the sum of all companies’ gross profits worldwide equate to global GDP.

The SBTi recommends that companies screen available methods and choose the method and target that best drives emissions reductions to demonstrate sector leadership. You should not default to the target that is easiest to meet but should use the most ambitious decarbonisation scenarios and methods that lead to the earliest reductions and the least cumulative emissions.

An SBT should cover a minimum of 5 years and a maximum of 15 years from the date the target is publicly announced. Companies are also encouraged to develop long-term targets (e.g. out to 2050).

It is recommended that you express targets in both intensity and absolute terms, to track both real reductions in emissions and efficiency performance.

More information about the ‘absolute-based target setting’ approach

This method requires you to reduce their absolute emissions by the same percentage as required for a given scenario (e.g. globally or for a sector). Companies setting their SBT today would be strongly encouraged to adopt absolute abatement targets well in excess of 4% per year to be aligned with limiting warming to 1.5°C.

As an alternative to setting percentage reduction targets for Scope 2 emissions (electricity consumption), you can set targets for the procurement of renewable energy. Acceptable procurement targets are:

  • 80% of electricity from renewable sources by 2025, and
  • 100% of electricity from renewable sources by 2030.

If you already source electricity at or above these thresholds, you should maintain or increase your share of renewable electricity.

How to commit to and announce a science-based target

The following steps are required to commit to and announce an SBT.

  1. Commit to set a science-based target (internal)
  2. Develop a target (internal)
  3. Submit your target for validation (to SBTi)
  4. Announce the target (public)

Criteria for SBTs

To ensure their rigour and credibility, SBTs should meet a range of criteria.

  • An SBT should cover a minimum of 5 years and a maximum of 15 years from the date the target is publicly announced. You are also encouraged to develop long-term targets (e.g. up to 2050).
  • The boundaries of your SBT should align with those of your carbon inventory.
  • From October 2019 the emissions reductions from Scope 1 and 2 sources should be aligned with a 1.5°C decarbonisation pathway.
  • SBTs should cover at least 95 per cent of your Scope 1 and 2 emissions.
  • You may set targets that combine scopes (e.g., Scope 1+2 or Scope 1+2+3 targets).
  • The Scope 1 and 2 portion of a combined target can include reductions from both scopes or only from one of the scopes. In the latter case, reductions in one scope have to compensate for the other scope.
  • You should use a single, specified Scope 2 accounting approach (“location-based” or “market-based”) for setting and tracking progress toward an SBT.
  • If you have significant Scope 3 emissions (over 40% of total Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions), you should set a Scope 3 target.
  • Scope 3 targets generally need not be science-based, but should be ambitious, measurable and clearly demonstrate how you are addressing the main sources of value chain GHG emissions in line with current best practice.
  • The Scope 3 target boundary should include the majority of value chain emissions; for example, the top three emissions source categories or two-thirds of total Scope 3 emissions.
  • The nature of a Scope 3 target will vary depending on the emissions source category concerned, the influence you have over your value chain partners and the quality of data available from your partners.
  • You should periodically update your SBTs to reflect significant changes that would otherwise compromise their relevance and consistency.
  • Offsets and avoided emissions do not count toward SBTs. The SBTi requires that you set targets based on emission reductions through direct action within your own boundaries or your value chains. Offsets are only considered to be an option if you want to contribute to finance additional emission reductions beyond your SBT.

Upcoming changes to submission of SBTs

In October 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 °C (SR15), which was the IPCC’s first major update since its Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) released in 2014.

The new report makes a very strong case about the benefits of limiting warming to 1.5°C and highlights the severe risks and impacts of reaching 2°C of warming. It provides new emissions pathways for limiting warming to 1.5°C and well-below 2°C.

Informed by SR15, in April 2019 SBTi released updated target validation criteria, target validation protocols, technical resources and tools to enable you to set targets in line with the level of decarbonisation needed to achieve the Paris Agreement.

This means that as of October 2019, the SBTi will no longer accept targets in line with 2°C. Existing targets in line with 2°C will continue to be valid and will be labelled as 2°C targets on the SBTi website.

Mandatory target recalculation

To ensure consistency with most recent climate science and best practices, targets must be reviewed, and if necessary, recalculated and revalidated, at a minimum every five years. If you have an approved target that requires recalculation, you must follow the most recently applicable criteria at the time of resubmission.

 

100% Renewables are experts in helping organisations develop their carbon reduction and renewable energy targets and pathways. Developing baselines, projecting your emissions and knowing how you can reach identified targets can be complex. If you need help, please contact  Barbara or Patrick.

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

Carbon accounting for the energy use of streetlighting

This blog post is relevant for Councils who want to make sure they are reporting the energy consumption of streetlights in their Local Government Area under the right carbon accounting scope.

This blog post assumes prior knowledge of carbon accounting. If you would like to find out more about how to develop carbon inventories, we highly recommend you download the GHG Protocol Corporate Accounting Standard, or talk to us about developing your carbon footprint.

The energy consumption of street lighting

Streetlighting is usually owned by network operators and is mostly unmetered. The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) maintains the “National Electricity Market Load Tables for Unmetered Connection Points”, including street lighting. The NEM load tables list all tested street lighting devices, including their full wattage as tested in each state and territory in the NEM.

For every Local Government Area, network operators apply hours of operation (typically dusk to dawn) to the NEM load table wattage for all installed unmetered street lights to determine monthly electricity consumption.

Where street lighting is metered the Council will simply receive electricity bills that record the actual electricity consumed in each billing period.

The higher the power rating of a particular luminaire, the higher the energy consumption and the related charges. This is why it makes sense for Councils to consider bulk upgrades to LED lighting.

The carbon footprint of street lighting

Street lighting makes up a significant proportion of a Council’s carbon footprint, especially in metropolitan areas, where there are many streetlights. Upgrading to LED lighting makes sense from a financial perspective, but it also significantly lowers the carbon footprint of street lighting.

The carbon footprint of street lighting is made up of the energy consumption of the street lighting, as well as the transmission and distribution (T&D) losses in getting the energy from the power generators to the luminaires.

Accounting for street lighting from the network operator’s perspective

The energy consumption of the streetlights is classified as ‘Scope 2’ from the network operator’s perspective. The T&D losses are also classified as ‘Scope 2’ from the network operator’s perspective, as the network ‘consumes’ the electricity.

Accounting for street lighting from a council’s perspective

Under standard carbon accounting rules, one could assume that a council should classify street lighting as a Scope 3 emissions source to avoid double counting.

However, it depends on what approach is used to consolidate carbon emissions. According to the GHG Protocol Corporate Accounting Standard, there are two approaches: the equity share and the control approaches.

Under the equity share approach, a council would report street lighting under Scope 3 if the network operator owns the street lights.

However, if a council is using an ‘operational control’ approach in their carbon accounting, it comes down to the question of what entity has the ‘operational control’.

The answer to this question determines whether a council would classify the energy consumption of streetlights as a ‘Scope 2’, or as a ‘Scope 3’ emission.

Some councils believe that the network operator has control. Others view that council has operational control, for the following reasons:

  • council pays for the asset through amortisation of the capital expenditure and for O&M expenses including electricity, and
  • council can decide whether they want a lighting upgrade or not.

Examples of how councils report their street lighting energy use

The following table shows a small selection of councils and how they account for the electricity consumption of street lighting.

CouncilScope classification of energy consumption of street lighting
Brisbane City CouncilScope 2 for Council-controlled streetlights
Scope 3 for third-party controlled streetlights
City of SydneyScope 2 (network-owned streetlighting deemed to be within the City’s financial control)
City of YarraScope 3
Moreland City CouncilScope 3
Randwick City CouncilScope 3

Under what scope should a council report its street lighting energy use?

Operational control is the most important consideration, but there are others you should be aware of. We have developed the following table which can help you make the right decision.

PreferenceResultant scope for the energy consumption of street lighting
Council deems street lighting to be under its operational controlScope 2
Council deems street lighting to be under the operational control of the network providerScope 3
Council wants to avoid double counting of emissionsScope 3
Council wants to report an NGER-compliant carbon footprint which includes street lighting (noting this may result in double counting)Scope 2
Council has a carbon reduction goal for scope 1 and 2 and is upgrading to LED street lighting Scope 2 (to capture the emissions reduction)
Council has a carbon reduction goal for scope 1, 2 and 3 and is upgrading to LED street lighting Scope 2 or Scope 3, depending on operational control

Example of how you would account for street-lighting

To show the implications of these decisions on how you actually calculate the carbon emissions, we are providing an example which is based on the emissions factor for NSW (July 2018 NGA factors).

Emission sourceScopeEmissions factor in t of CO2-e per MWh
Energy consumption20.82
T&D losses30.10
Total lifecycle emissions2 and 30.92

Based on these emission factors, the following graphic shows two scenarios. Option 1 classifies street lighting as Scope 2, and option 2 classifies it as Scope 3.

Options to account for street lighting in your carbon inventory
Options to account for street lighting in your carbon inventory

Under Option 1, where you classify streetlighting as Scope 2, you would account for the energy consumption of your streetlights as Scope 2, and for the T&D losses as Scope 3.

Under Option 2, where you classify streetlighting as Scope 3, you would account for both the energy consumption and T&D losses under Scope 3.

So under what scope should you report your street-lighting consumption?

First, determine your preferences and reporting needs as per table 2 above. Then adjust your carbon accounting accordingly. Please bear in mind that the carbon accounting software package you might be using may have a fixed Scope classification and may not provide you with a choice.

Carbon accounting can be complex, and it pays to get the help of experts. If you need help, 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.

Does the typical carbon management hierarchy apply to your business?

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

Typical carbon management hierarchy
Figure 1: Typical carbon management hierarchy

Typical carbon management hierarchy

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

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

Every organisation has unique needs

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

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

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

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

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

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

If you are interested to find out where your biggest savings are, both in monetary and carbon reduction terms, please contact Barbara or Patrick.

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

Should Councils upgrade to LED street lighting now?

There are around 2.3 million street lights in Australia, consuming close to 0.5% of all electricity generated. Between electricity and use-of-system (SLUOS)[1] charges local Councils and roads authorities are spending upwards of $400 million per year on street lights. For instance, a small regional council might spend $300,000 per year on street lighting for local roads, whereas a metropolitan council in a capital city might spend $2.5 million or more per year.

In many parts of the world LED technology is now the norm for new street lighting and when upgrades are carried out to existing street lights. In Australia, just 10% of street lights have been converted to LED, so there is an enormous opportunity for local governments to make significant savings that will lower their carbon footprint, reduce costs, and provide better public lighting services to ratepayers.

LED technology has been improving for several years, with current products capable of reducing energy demand by 50-60%. There are now numerous initiatives and examples of LED street lighting across Australia. The total greenhouse gas emissions savings if all street lights were converted to LED today would be more than half a million tonnes of carbon emissions per year.

Working with several councils in 2016 and 2017 we have seen that the payback for local road lighting upgrades is around 4 to 5 years. This is partly driven by recent volatility in electricity markets, which is causing higher electricity prices for the next several years for many councils. The case for investing in LED street lighting is therefore very strong.

For many local councils – the 90% who have yet to upgrade to LED – a missing piece is often understanding the business case and the benefits of switching to LED. We strongly urge all local councils to spend time to do this, so that when the opportunity to switch arises, the case has been made and funds are available to pay for the upgrade.

Evaluating the business case can involve an assessment of a number of factors:

1) Eligibility of lamps

The current street lighting inventory can be compared with LED options so that all eligible replacements can be identified. For example, networks may only have replacement options for non-decorative fittings on local roads, and main road lights may not yet be eligible. Councils can work with their network provider to get clarity on what can be done now, and what the expected timeframe for LED-eligibility of all lighting will be.

2) Energy savings

For eligible lamps, the potential savings will involve calculating the change in energy demand for new LED lights compared with the existing technology. It is best to refer to the Australian Energy Regulator’s lighting load table so that energy demand for each type of light is correct. For example, an 80W mercury vapour lamp actually consumes around 96W of power as it has a ballast that also consumes power. The energy savings can be converted to dollars by applying the energy and network rates for street lighting. Remember that a proportion of street lighting energy is consumed during peak times, and not all during off-peak. In our experience energy savings of between 50% and 60% are typical.

3) SLUOS savings

Every year Street Light Use Of System (SLUOS) prices are released, showing the cost per year for the full range of luminaires and mounting structures within a network area. Similar to calculating energy savings, an analysis needs to be conducted of SLUOS charges for all eligible lighting that can be switched to LED. Councils should regularly receive data from their network provider which will confirm the SLUOS rates. These are then compared with the SLUOS pricing for LED equivalents. Councils should engage with their network provider to confirm the estimated benefits. In our experience to date, we have seen savings in SLUOS charges of around 55%.

4) Available incentives

In some states, there are incentives to help councils switch to LED lighting. For example, the NSW Energy Savings Scheme has a public lighting component, which allows efficiency upgrades to access Energy Saving Certificates (ESCs) and claim several years of savings effectively as an upfront discount to the cost of an LED upgrade. This can reduce the upgrade costs by more than 5%. It is also recommended that any potential grant incentives be identified and applied for where applicable. Energy-specific, climate/carbon or community/regional grants could all apply.

5) Timing for the upgrade

Typically the costs of bulk replacements are borne by the network provider and councils simply see billing for energy and SLUOS. However, an upgrade to LED involves a step change in technology, and whole luminaires and not just lamps are replaced. If possible, it makes sense to time an upgrade to coincide with a regular bulk replacement cycle, with the potential that labour costs for the upgrade can be reduced since this is part of the normal process.

6) Other ways to reduce costs

When undertaking a bulk replacement, it is likely that there is a ‘residual value’ remaining in some street lights – that is, capital costs incurred by the network that have not been fully recouped. This could make up around 10% of the LED upgrade cost, more in some cases. However, in our experience, a lot of this cost may be associated with just a small fraction of the assets. Where this is a significant factor councils should work with the network to see if these upgrades can be deferred to a later upgrade cycle and then weigh up the pros and cons of lost savings compared with the reduction in capital cost.

Armed with this analysis councils will be in a position to fully understand both the costs and savings of an LED upgrade to their street lighting. However, upgrading eligible street lights to LED technology should just be the beginning of a council’s efforts to reduce the carbon footprint of this service. There is more that can be achieved in future.

  • Development processes and controls should be examined and modified to ensure that all new land releases and road developments use LED as standard.
  • Off-grid street lights that are powered by solar technology and batteries can significantly reduce installation costs with no network connection requirement.
  • The Street Lighting And Smart Controls Programme (SLSC) is aiming to achieve more savings in street lighting by driving the integration of smart controls with street lights. While just 0.1% of street lighting in Australia has smart controls enabled (through trials), this will change in future and may see energy savings rise to well over 70%.
  • In addition to distributing light more efficiently than conventional street lighting technologies, LED lighting efficiency will continue to improve in other areas. Whereas some LED technologies produce around 100-120 lumens per watt (lm/W) today, in time this will improve. A 300 lm/W future LED will require far less power to provide the same light as LEDs today.

Saving 50-60% with an LED upgrade today makes a big contribution to reducing local government’s carbon footprint. But future advances in LED, smart controls and renewable energy can drive even greater savings in the long term. Active management of street lighting, engagement with council associations and industry bodies, and periodic re-assessment of opportunities to further reduce energy costs will see these savings realised.

For more information, contact or Patrick or Barbara.

[1] Street Light Use of System

How the average council can save ratepayers $1m per year

1 million dollars

100% Renewables undertook an investigation of how much regional councils spend on electricity, street lighting and fuels, on average. The results are that a typical rural council in NSW spends about $2.5m per year on electricity, $250,000 on street lighting electricity and roughly $1m on fuels like diesel and petrol.

By implementing energy efficiency measures like switching to LED lighting, upgrading to Variable Speed Drives, engaging staff, changing procedures, upgrading building envelopes or installing sub-metering, the average council can save about $0.5m per year.

Making street lighting more energy efficient can save the average council $125,000 per year, and this is just the energy saving. There may be additional savings in Street Lighting Use of System (SLUOS) charges. Through measures like smaller vehicles, car pooling and driver training, another $100,000 per year on fuel costs can be saved.

Installing solar PV behind-the-meter can reduce council’s electricity bill by about $250,000 per year. All reduction measures together are able to decrease energy spend by about 25%. ‘The average regional council in NSW can save about $1 million by implementing a long-term sustainable energy plan’, says Patrick Denvir, co-founder of 100% Renewables.

Some forward-thinking councils have already achieved amazing reductions in their energy bills and their carbon footprints, with some having decreased their consumption by 20%, to even 50% in some cases. While many councils have already embarked on a journey of energy efficiency and implementing renewables, more work can be done.

In our experience, the investment needed to achieve the 25% in savings is between $5m and $6m.  Most likely, two-thirds of these savings can be achieved in the first 5 years of implementing a sustainable energy plan. The last third can be achieved over the longer term.

If you are a council that wants to unlock these savings and save your ratepayers $1m per year, come and talk to us at 100% Renewables. We are specialised in developing long-term energy efficiency and renewable energy plans and can provide advice about how you can access those savings. Call us at 1300 102 195.