Tag Archives: energy footprint

Emissions, renewables and barriers to uptake [includes video]

I was recently asked to give a speech to the Maribyrnong community in Melbourne to help them with the development of a climate emergency plan. The session started with me presenting on energy-related emission trends and developing climate emergency plans, followed by a Q&A session.

In this blog post, I’ll write about energy-related emission trends, and I also recorded myself in a video. In the next article, I will go deeper into the development of climate emergency plans.

Global energy-related emission trends

In the last thirty years, energy-related carbon emissions have risen from a little over 20 Gt CO2-e to about 33 Gt CO2-e, which was mainly due to an increase in energy consumption by developing nations, as can be seen in Figure 1.

Energy-related CO2 emissions, 1990-2019

Figure 1: Energy-related CO2 emissions, 1990-2019[1]

Energy-related emissions by advanced economies is at nearly the same level today as in 1990. This is illustrated clearly when we look at emissions from electricity generation in advanced economies below in Figure 2. We can see here that while demand for electricity grew by approximately 300% over roughly 50 years, related carbon emissions have grown at a much slower rate. If fact, since the Global Financial Crisis, corresponding GHG emissions have rapidly decoupled.

Electricity generation and power sector CO2 emissions in advanced economies, 1971-2019

Figure 2: Electricity generation and power sector CO2 emissions in advanced economies, 1971-2019[2]

The decoupling of electricity and emissions in advanced economies is due in large part to the growth in renewables. In 2019, almost 70% of new global generation was from renewables compared to only 25% in 2001, as shown in Figure 3. In 2017, 20% of global power capacity was renewables, in 2019 it was one third!

 

Renewable share of annual power capacity expansion

Figure 3: Renewable share of annual power capacity expansion[3]

Emission trends in Australia

These global trends are repeated in Australia, though at a somewhat slower rate than in other leading economies. By 2040, of the 16 coal-fired plants in the National Electricity Market (NEM), nine are expected to be closed, with the remaining seven expected to close by around 2050.

Even without new policies and targets, the renewables share of electricity will grow, which means that together with increased energy efficiency, emissions from electricity generation should decrease by 2030 to almost 1990 levels, as shown in Figure 4.

Electricity emissions trend in Australia

Figure 4: Electricity emissions trend in Australia[4]

This trend is the right direction, but the rate is not fast enough to align with climate change science. So why are renewables not replacing coal sooner?

Barriers for the uptake of renewables in Australia

There are a range of barriers at the grid level as well as at consumer levels that influence the uptake of renewables.

Major barriers for renewables at a grid-level

Investment uncertainty

Due to the lack of clear federal policy and direction, there is great investment uncertainty for renewable energy project developers. If the business case for projects is uncertain, new projects stall. Some of this inaction is made up for by the positive actions by States & Territories, such as Victoria and the ACT, who have legislated higher renewables. NSW is also implementing new renewable energy zones to boost the growth of renewables and jobs in regional areas.

Connection and transmission issues

Many renewable energy projects are finding it hard to connect to the transmission or distribution network due to congestion issues. Marginal Loss Factors (MLF) also tend to negatively affect the business case of renewable energy projects, which are located further from the grid than ‘traditional’ coal-fired generators. So, for the same generation, coal-fired operators will receive more than renewable generators that are located further from the grid.

Lack of transmission infrastructure

Renewable generation areas are not the same as centralised coal-fired locations, so new transmission infrastructure is needed, which has to be financed and built.

Major barriers for renewables at a community level

Australia is the most successful country globally in terms of the proportion of households with solar, with more than 20% of homes generating their own clean energy. This is more than double the next highest penetration. However, despite this barriers remain to more widespread and rapid uptake of solar.

Information

Some people and businesses simply may not know that installing solar panels helps them to save money and so don’t evaluate the opportunity. They may also not have a trusted installer and don’t know how to go about finding a suitable supplier.

Capital cost

For many people, the capital outlay of solar panels is a significant barrier to reaping the financial benefits of free generation once the initial money has been spent.

Pricing signals

Energy pricing and metering do not yet adequately facilitate demand response at a household and small business level.

Priorities

People may know that installing solar panels is a good idea, but they may have other priorities that they attend to first.

Renters versus owners

It’s relatively simple for people and businesses that own their premises to install solar on their roofs. It is much harder for people and businesses who rent. We have developed fact sheets for North Sydney Council that help overcome this problem.

Stay tuned for part 2 of this article, which is going to progress in to the development of Climate Emergency Plans that councils and communities can develop to accelerate their switch to renewables.

100% Renewables are experts in developing climate emergency plans, and supporting the implementation and achievement of ambitious targets. If you need help to develop your Climate Emergency Strategy, 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.

[1] IEA, Global CO2 emissions in 2019 – https://www.iea.org/articles/global-co2-emissions-in-2019

[2] IEA, Electricity generation and power sector CO2 emissions in advanced economies, 1971-2019, IEA, Paris

[3] IRENA – Renewable capacity highlights 2020

[4] The Commonwealth Government – Department of Industry – Australia’s emissions projections 2019

The importance of energy efficiency in reaching net zero emissions

As part of the Paris Agreement, we need to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius, which means that we need to reach zero net emissions from the second half of this century.

Energy efficiency means to either perform the same activity with less energy input or accomplish more activity with the same amount of energy input. Either way, you achieve more with each unit of energy consumed.

Think of energy efficiency as the cheapest and cleanest fuel you can use, as it is measured and valued as the quantity of energy you do not use. The higher the price you pay for your electricity, the greater the value to being more productive with your energy input.

Apart from saving you money, improving energy efficiency means that your renewable energy needs will be smaller, which can make your journey to net-zero emissions less expensive. It also reduces the environmental impact of manufacturing, transporting, and installing renewables.

You can improve energy efficiency by implementing procedural changes, engaging staff, and retrofitting and upgrading equipment. Energy is wasted by leaving appliances and equipment on when not in use, having inadequately controlled temperature or process settings, using old technology, having poor maintenance procedures, or by staff not being aware of the correct operation of equipment.

Examples of retrofitting or upgrading equipment include:

  • lighting replacements
  • improving building envelopes to reduce heating and cooling energy demand
  • optimising or upgrading the HVAC system, lighting sensors and timers
  • re-engineering manufacturing processes or implementing new process technology
  • implementing metering and monitoring processes
  • installing variable speed drives on motors used to drive equipment, like fans and pumps

Even the largest and most sophisticated energy users can find additional opportunities for cost-effective energy savings.

One of the best ways to uncover energy efficiency opportunities is to undertake an energy audit. Energy audits can be a bit daunting, and it helps to engage experts. While in the past, we used to perform energy audits onsite, we have now adjusted our business processes so that we can deliver a seamless online experience for our customers.

Using technology, our virtual energy audits will save you time, money and upskill your staff, while our carbon footprint is also reduced. We will shortly publish a video that shows how virtual energy audits work.

Covid-19 is forcing many businesses to look at reducing costs where they can. An energy audit will achieve cost savings, not only in the short but also in the medium and longer-term. To see if you have opportunities to save money by not wasting energy, contact Barbara or Patrick.

Focusing on energy efficiency can be a cultural shift for many organisations, and implementing these changes can take time. We recommend implementing an Energy Management System, like ISO 50001, which works for all organisations, regardless of size, industry, or location, to embed an ongoing culture of energy management and efficiency within your organisation.

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.

Calculating your GPC community inventory – Part 4

In our first blog post in this series, we introduced community emission inventories. In the previous articles, we examined categories and scopes of the Global Protocol for Community-scale Greenhouse Gas Emission Inventories (GPC) and looked at the differences between a BASIC, BASIC+ and a territorial inventory. In this article, we discuss how you can calculate your community’s emissions.

Introduction

Calculating versus measuring carbon emissions

It is possible to measure carbon emissions. Examples are monitoring greenhouse gas emissions from a coal-fired power plant or measuring the emissions from exhaust pipes in vehicles. In most cases, however, you will calculate emissions by applying a so-called ‘emissions factor’.

How are greenhouse gas emissions expressed?

Greenhouse gas emissions are expressed in tonnes of CO2-e (carbon dioxide equivalent).

When reporting under the GPC, you need to record greenhouse gas emissions of every gas, plus the tonnes of CO2-e.

What is CO2-e?

Every greenhouse gas has a different global warming potential (GWP) over 100 years. The GWPs are determined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The most current assessment of GWPs was released in 2013 in IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report (AR5).

When reporting your community inventory, you should use the latest IPCC Assessment Report or the version used by your country’s national inventory body.

Australia, as an example, uses the Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) when converting different greenhouse gases to CO2-e. Carbon dioxide is assigned a GWP of 1. Methane has a GWP of 25 and nitrous oxide has a GWP of 298. These GWPs are used to convert greenhouse gases into one single measure, CO2-e.

As an example, if 1,000 tonnes of methane emissions are emitted in your community, this would translate to 25,000 tonnes of CO2-e.

Activity data and emission factors

Calculations are based on converting data that you have available into emissions using a ‘conversion’ or an ‘emissions factor’.

GHG emissions = Activity data x emissions factor

Activity data measures a level of activity that leads to greenhouse gas emissions. Examples of activity data are:

  • Electricity consumption
  • Natural gas consumption
  • Litres of fuel used in a car
  • Tonnes of waste sent to landfill
  • Number of sheep

An emissions factor converts your activity data into a mass of greenhouse gas emissions.

Example of calculating emissions associated with electricity consumption

Say your city consumed 1,000 MWh of electricity. The emissions associated with your electricity use differ depending on how this electricity is generated. If mostly fossil fuels like coal are used to produce electricity, then this will produce more emissions compared to renewables.

Let’s take a look at the emissions resulting from the same electricity consumption in three different English-speaking countries by applying the relevant emission factors.

Figure 1: GHG emissions of different countries with the same underlying electricity consumption

The emissions for Australia are higher than for the USA and the UK with the same underlying consumption due to most of the electricity being produced from fossil fuel sources.

Note on emission factors:

The factors for Australia and the USA are averages across all regions for 2019.

Factor sources:

Selecting an appropriate calculation methodology

Selecting a calculation methodology depends on several things:

  • The purpose of your GHG inventory. Considerations here include whether you are reporting internally or to your community, or whether you are participating in programs like the C40, or the Global Covenant of Mayors.
  • Availability of data. Some data may be easily obtainable, whereas, with others, you may need more comprehensive data gathering methods.
  • Consistency with your country’s national inventory reporting programs. You may need to select a specific calculation methodology to fit in with how your country reports its national inventory.

No matter what calculation method you choose, you need to make sure to document the calculation method you have used.

Data collection

A big (and the most time consuming) part in calculating a community’s inventory is data collection.

If you are lucky, you have existing data for your selected inventory boundary and the reporting level you have selected. If not, you will have to generate new data (which involves surveying your community) or adapt existing data.

Examples of data sources

The following shows a list of possible data sources you could use (as described in the GPC):

  • Government departments
  • Statistics agencies
  • Your country’s national GHG inventory report
  • Universities and research institutes
  • Scientific and technical articles in environmental books, journals and reports
  • Sector experts/stakeholder organisations

Identifying emission factors

Your first choice of emission factors should be local, regional, or national factors published by the Government. If these are not available, you can use IPCC default factors or data from the Emission Factor Database, or other standard values from international bodies that reflect national circumstances. Table 2.2 of the 2006 IPCC Guidelines provides a comprehensive guide to identifying potential sources of emission factors.



Quality assessment of activity data and emissions factors

Ideally, you would want the most accurate activity data and emissions factors you can get. However, this will not always be possible, and sometimes, you need to trade-off between accuracy and completeness of your inventory. Generally speaking, you would prefer your data and emissions factors to be:

  • Reliable
  • Peer-reviewed
  • Reputable
  • Robust
  • Recent
  • Specific to your area
  • Publicly available

To be compliant with the GPC, you need to evaluate both the quality of your activity data as well as that of your emission factors. The quality can be low, medium or high as shown in the graphic below.

Figure 2: Assessing the quality of activity data and emissions factors

How to calculate the most common emissions in a GPC inventory

The following section provides more guidance on how you can calculate the most common emission sources in your GPC inventory.

Calculating emissions from stationary energy consumption

Examples of stationary energy consumption are electricity and natural gas use.

Step 1 – Gather activity data

Obtain activity data for each fuel type, ideally disaggregated by sub-sector (e.g. residential buildings, commercial buildings, etc.). Ideally, you would get this data from the network provider or utility. If this is not possible, you can survey your community, or model the energy consumption by determining energy intensities by facility type.

If you cannot disaggregate the data into sub-sectors, you can apportion the total consumption information to each sub-sector or building type. If data is not available for your city, you can use regional or national consumption data scaled down to your population size.

Step 2 – Calculate emissions:

Multiply the fuel/electricity consumption with an appropriate emissions factor.

Calculating emissions from transportation

Emissions from transportation can be difficult to calculate. Transportation consists of the sub-sectors on-road, railways, water transport, aviation and off-road transportation. In this article, we are focusing on on-road transport. Please refer to the GPC for guidance in calculating other transportation-related emissions.

When it comes to on-road transportation, there is a large variation in available data, and the GPC does not prescribe a specific method. Most cities start with a top-down method that uses fuel consumption as a proxy for travel behaviour. It’s fairly easy to calculate emissions this way and does not require a high level of technical capacity, but it makes it difficult to track emission reduction actions.

With more accurate or relevant information available over time, cities tend to change their method to a more detailed, bottom-up approach. Bottom-up methods use detailed activity data, such as vehicle km travelled per mode and vehicle fuel intensity.

Step 1 – Choose calculation method:

The GPC encourages cities to calculate emissions based on four common methods and recommends the induced activity approach.

  1. Fuel sales method (top-down)
  2. Induced activity method (bottom-up) – transportation emissions induced by the city, including trips that begin, end, or are fully contained within the city (usually excluding pass-through trips).
  3. Geographic or territorial method (bottom-up) – emissions from transportation activity within city boundaries
  4. Resident activity method (bottom-up) – emissions from transportation activity undertaken by city residents

Step 2 – Gather activity data:

If you have chosen the fuel sales method, you can obtain data from fuel dispensing facilities or tax receipts. Where this is not possible, data may be available at a regional scale, which can be downscaled based on vehicle ownership data.

If you have chosen a bottom-up method, you need to obtain data from models or surveys.

Step 3 – Calculate emissions:

Multiply the fuel/electricity (electric vehicles) consumption with an appropriate emissions factor.

Calculating emissions from waste

Here, you calculate waste that is not being recycled, and ends up in landfill, biological treatment or incineration. Biological treatment refers to composting and anaerobic digestion of organic waste.

Step 1 – Choose calculation method:

Choose the calculation method

  1. First order of decay (FOD) – emissions are calculated based on actual emissions during the calculation year
  2. Methane commitment (MC) – emissions are calculated based on waste disposed in the calculation year

Step 2 – Gather activity data:

Obtain activity data from waste collection services and weigh-ins at the landfill site. Alternatively, you can multiply the per capita waste generation rate by the population. If you have chosen the FOD method, you will also need to collect historical waste data.

Step 3 – Calculate emissions:

Depending on the method chosen, calculate emissions based on guidance given in the GPC.

Calculating emissions from wastewater

Step 1 – Gather activity data:

Obtain the quantity of wastewater generated in your community, how it is treated (aerobically – in presence of oxygen, or anaerobically – in absence of oxygen), the wastewater’s source and its organic content.

Step 2 – Calculate emissions:

Calculate emissions for methane and nitrous oxide based on guidance given in the GPC.

Conclusion

It is challenging to develop carbon footprints that are in alignment with the GPC. Sometimes, it is easier to get the help of an expert who can guide you through the process. Here at 100% Renewables, we are certified City Climate Planners, proving our experience in community-level GHG emissions inventory accounting.

If you need help with developing community emissions inventories or pathways for emission reduction, 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.

Reporting your GPC inventory – BASIC versus BASIC+ – Part 3

In our first blog post in this series, we introduced community emission inventories. In the previous article, we examined categories and scopes of the Global Protocol for Community-scale Greenhouse Gas Emission Inventories (GPC) in greater detail.  In this blog post, we will look at the differences between a BASIC, BASIC+ and a territorial inventory.

We recommend that you read our introductory article first to get a basic understanding of GPC inventories.

Reporting emissions under the GPC

As per our previous article, emissions have to be classified by scope and (sub)sector, but there are two different ways you report these emissions.

  1. Scopes framework – territorial accounting
  2. City-induced framework

These two frameworks sum and report carbon emissions differently.

Under the territorial, or ‘scopes’ framework, you report all carbon emissions occurring within the city boundary (scope 1 emissions sources). Emission sources outside the city boundary are classified as scope 2 and scope 3.

However, if you only report on scope 1 emissions, you leave out the details of other emission sources that a city/LGA is responsible for. Therefore, the GPC also requires reporting under the ‘city-induced’ framework. Under this framework, carbon emissions due to activities taking place within a city are calculated, which takes selected scope 1, 2 and 3 emission sources into account.

Figure 1: The territorial and city-induced ways of reporting a GPC inventory

All emissions a city is responsible for are counted, no matter whether they occur within or outside the city. There are two options to report under the ‘city-induced’ framework, BASIC and BASIC+. The BASIC level allows you to report on standard emission sources in a city.

The BASIC+ level covers more emission sources. This means that a community has to report the most common scope 1, 2 and 3 emission sources. Cities should try and report as many emission sources as possible – this is usually constrained by what data sources are available.

Territorial reporting

One of the advantages of using the GPC in compiling your city’s or LGA’s carbon inventory is that it allows you to add all discrete inventories up to a national level. The way this works is that the boundaries of each inventory must not overlap and that you only count scope 1 emission sources.

If you only total scope 1 (‘territorial’) emissions, then you are reporting emissions occurring within the geographic boundary of a city, or LGA. This way of reporting community emissions is consistent with national-level greenhouse gas reporting.

When you are reporting under the territorial reporting level, you need to include the following scope 1 emission sources:

  • Energy (both stationary and in-boundary transport)
  • Waste and wastewater
  • IPPU (only under BASIC+)
  • AFOLU (only under BASIC+)

Emissions from grid-supplied energy are calculated at the point of energy generation. This means that you are reporting energy generation supplied to the grid within your city boundaries under scope 1, but you would not include this source in your BASIC/BASIC+ totals.

Emissions from waste are calculated at the point of waste disposed. This means that waste imported from outside the city but treated inside the city will be part of the scope 1 total under the territorial approach.

BASIC reporting

The BASIC level of reporting covers scope 1 and scope 2 emission sources from energy (both for stationary as well as transport purposes), as well as scope 1 and scope 3 emissions from waste.

If you are reporting under the BASIC reporting level, you need to include the following emission sources:

  • Energy (both stationary and transport), scopes 1 and 2
  • Waste and wastewater, scopes 1 and 3

You will need to report all carbon emissions from stationary energy sources such as natural gas consumption, in scope 1, and those from the use of grid-supplied electricity in scope 2.

You will also need to report fugitive emissions associated with coal, oil and natural gas systems under scope 1.

You need to report all carbon emissions from transportation fuels occurring within the city boundary in scope 1, and carbon emissions from grid-supplied electricity used for transportation within the city boundary in scope 2 (e.g., electric vehicle charging).

Emissions from grid-supplied energy are calculated at the point of energy consumption and emissions from waste at the point of waste generation. This means that under the city-induced framework, carbon emissions from the disposal or treatment of waste generated within the city boundary is accounted for, no matter whether the waste is treated inside (scope 1) or outside (scope 3) the city boundary.



BASIC+ reporting

The BASIC+ level requires communities to cover a broader range of emission sources in addition to the ones under the BASIC level. These emissions cover sources such as industrial processes (e.g., steel production), product use (e.g., paraffin use), agriculture, forestry and land use, and transboundary transportation.

BASIC+ also requires you to report scope 3 emissions associated with energy consumption (both stationary and transport). In the case of electricity consumption, these are emissions associated with transmission and distribution losses. For natural gas, petrol or diesel consumption, these are emissions attributable to upstream emissions in the production and transportation of the fuel.

Because scope 3 emission factors for energy consumption are readily available in most cases, cities that only report under BASIC also tend to report on these emission sources as part of an extended BASIC inventory.

Not all communities will have big industries or many agricultural emissions in their city/LGA. However, for the ones that do, they should be striving to report under BASIC+.

If you are reporting under the BASIC+ reporting level, you need to include the following scope 1, 2 and 3 emission sources:

  • All BASIC emission sources
  • Scope 3 emissions from electricity consumption (T&D losses)
  • Scope 3 emissions from transboundary transportation
  • IPPU
  • AFOLU

Summary of differences between BASIC and BASIC+ level reporting

The following table summarises the main differences between the two reporting levels.

Figure 2: Summary of differences between BASIC and BASIC+ level reporting

What is the minimum information you will need to report?

As a minimum, you need to report the following information:

  • Geographic area of the inventory boundary
  • Time span of the inventory (typically one year)
  • City information (population, GDP)
  • Emission sources across stationary (scope 1 and 2), in-boundary travel (scope 1 and 2), waste (scope 1 and 3)
  • Total emissions in tonnes of CO2-e, but also per constituent gas (CO2, CH4, N20)
  • Activity data, emission factors, data sources, assumptions and methodologies
  • Data quality assessment

It is challenging to develop carbon footprints that are in alignment with the GPC. Sometimes, it is easier to get the help of an expert who can guide you through the process. Here at 100% Renewables, we are certified City Climate Planners, proving our experience in community-level GHG emissions inventory accounting.

If you need help with developing community emissions inventories or pathways for emission reduction, 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.

Categorising your GPC inventory into sectors and scopes – Part 2

In our previous blog post, we introduced community emission inventories. In this article, we are examining the Global Protocol for Community-scale Greenhouse Gas Emission Inventories (GPC) in greater detail. Specifically, we will look at how you need to categorise your emissions into sectors and scopes.

We recommend that you read our introductory article first to get a basic understanding of GPC inventories.

Categorising emission sources

When you develop a GPC inventory, you need to make sure to report emissions under the right sector and sub-sector.

Main sectors

According to the GPC, carbon emissions from city activities are categorised into six main sectors. Sectors are the topmost categorisation of city-wide carbon emission sources. The sectors are as follows:

  1. Stationary energy
  2. Transportation
  3. Waste
  4. Industrial processes and product use
  5. Agriculture, forestry and other land use
  6. Other scope 3 emissions

Sometimes, it can be tricky to decide whether an emission source goes under waste or stationary energy, or whether it goes under stationary energy or industrial processes. It can also be tricky to know where to account for the electricity used to charge electric vehicles and making sure that this is not double-counted under both the stationary and transportation sectors. The GPC provides guidance around these issues.

Sub-sectors

Sub-sectors are divisions that make up a sector (e.g., residential buildings, or transport modes such as on-road or railways). The following lists show the sub-sectors supporting the main sectors.

Stationary energy

Stationary energy is emission sources like electricity and natural gas consumption. This sector is divided into:

  • Residential buildings
  • Commercial and institutional buildings
  • Manufacturing industries and construction
  • Energy industries
  • Agriculture, forestry and fishing activities
  • Fugitive emissions

Transportation

Transportation comprises emissions from private and public transport on land, sea or in the air. This sector is divided into:

  • On-road
  • Railways
  • Waterborne navigation
  • Aviation
  • Off-road

Waste

Waste emissions come from the decomposition of organic materials when waste goes to landfill, is being composted/anaerobically digested or incinerated. Greenhouse gases from waste also include emissions from wastewater. The waste sector is divided into:

  • Solid waste disposal (waste going to landfill)
  • Biological treatment (like composting or anaerobic digestion)
  • Incineration and open burning
  • Wastewater

Industrial processes and product use (IPPU)

This sector is particularly important for cities with a lot of industry. This sector is divided into:

  • Industrial processes (comprises of carbon emissions not associated with energy use, e.g. production of mineral products, chemicals or metals)
  • Product use (entails the usage of products that emit greenhouse gases, like air conditioning equipment that releases refrigerants during its operation and when dismantled improperly, or using lubricants and oils)

Agriculture, forestry and other land use (AFOLU)

Emissions from AFOLU are the most difficult to estimate. This sector is divided into:

  • Livestock (digestion and manure of animals like cows and sheep)
  • Land (e.g. clearing of forests)
  • Aggregate sources (e.g. rice cultivation, fertiliser usage)


Other Scope 3

A limited number of scope 3 emission sources are included in the five sectors listed above. However, this particular sector encompasses all other scope 3 emissions, like embedded emissions in consumed goods and services.

You can report on other scope 3 emission sources optionally but must not include it in BASIC/BASIC+ totals (Part 3 of this blog series goes into the details of BASIC and BASIC+). It is expected that additional guidance will be released at a later date on how to account for other scope 3 emissions.

This sector contains mainly:

  • Embedded emissions in consumed products and services produced outside of the city boundary

Sub-categories

You can use sub-categories to further split up sub-sectors, such as vehicle types within the sub-sector of each transport mode (e.g. passenger vehicles) or building types within the stationary energy sector. Sub-categories can help you improve the quality of your inventory and identify suitable mitigation actions.

Categorising emissions by scope

Categorising emissions by scope is similar to the framework used in the GHG Protocol Corporate Standard. While the Corporate Standard classifies emission sources into scopes depending on the operational boundaries of an organisation, the GPC classifies emissions sources depending on whether they occur within or outside city boundaries.

Like the GHG Protocol, the GPC classifies scopes into scope 1, 2 or 3. Table 1 below shows the definition of the scopes and gives examples.

Table 1: GPC emission scopes 1, 2 and 3

It is challenging to develop carbon footprints that are in alignment with the GPC. Sometimes, it is easier to get the help of an expert who can guide you through the process. Here at 100% Renewables, we are certified City Climate Planners, proving our experience in community-level GHG emissions inventory accounting.

If you need help with developing community emissions inventories or pathways for emission reduction, 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 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.

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.

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

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

The difference between your energy and carbon footprint

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

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

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

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

What is carbon neutrality?

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

You can reach carbon neutrality by:

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

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

What is 100% renewable energy?

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

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