Tag Archives: NCOS/Climate Active

Part 1: University leadership – ambitious commitments

Introduction

We previously discussed in a 2017 blog post the actions and commitments of several universities who demonstrate sustainable energy leadership. We highlighted examples of leading clean energy and low carbon research, divestments from fossil fuels, and examples of targets and actions by universities to reduce their own carbon footprint.

As we have done with our analysis of local governments and communities, our new blog post series takes a more comprehensive look at the commitments, actions and achievements of Australia’s public tertiary education sector. Like local government, universities have the capacity to influence climate change responses well beyond their own operations, through their research, education, investments, as well as their commitments to renewables and climate change mitigation and adaptation within their operations.

In this first blog post, we highlight the ambitious renewable energy and net zero or carbon neutral commitments of 14 leading universities across Australia. In a later post, we will look at some of the actions and achievements of these institutions, highlighting actions they are taking to progress towards or exceed their targets.

In other blog posts in this series, we will report on a range of other aspects of universities’ climate change performance, including:

  • Renewable energy and carbon targets, commitments and achievements by 26 other universities across Australia
  • Commitments to built environment, such as Green Star certified buildings
  • Universities that are signatories to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and their progress on these
  • Universities with fossil fuel divestment commitments
  • Case examples of leading projects and achievements

Universities 100% renewable energy and carbon neutrality commitments

Carbon neutral and 100% renewables commitments by Australian universities
Carbon neutral and 100% renewables commitments by Australian universities

Below is the list of universities in Australia who have demonstrated sustainable energy leadership with their ambitious commitments to 100% renewable energy and carbon neutrality.

NoStateUniversityRenewable energy CommitmentRenewable energy Commitment
1NSWCharles Sturt UniversityOnsite generation of renewable energy to all campusesFirst university to obtain NCOS/Climate Active-accredited carbon neutral status in 2015
2NSWUniversity of NewcastleDeliver 100% renewable electricity across our Newcastle and Central Coast campuses from 1 January 2020Achieve carbon neutrality by 2025
3NSWUniversity of New South Wales100% renewable electricity by 2020Carbon neutrality on energy use by 2020
4QLDUniversity of Queensland100% renewable energy by 2020Reduction in the university’s carbon footprint
5QLDUniversity of the Sunshine CoastWater battery located at USC - cuts energy usage by 40%Carbon neutral by 2025
6QLDUniversity of Southern QueenslandCommitted to achieve 100% renewable energy by installing a Sustainable Energy SolutionCarbon neutral by 2020
7SAFlinders UniversityGenerate 30% of our energy needs from renewable sourcesAchieve zero net emissions from electricity by 2021
8VICDeakin UniversitySustainable microgrid systems in the community and their effective integration with existing energy networksCarbon neutral by 2030
9VICLa Trobe UniversityRenewable energy project will increase our solar generation by 200%Carbon neutral by 2029 and our regional campuses are set to become carbon neutral by 2022.
10VICRMIT University100% renewable energy from 2019Carbon neutral by 2030
11VICMonash University100% renewable energy by 2030Net zero carbon emissions from Australian campuses by 2030
12VICSwinburne University of TechnologyCommit to 100% renewable energy procurement by 31 July 2020Carbon neutral by 2025
13VICUniversity of Melbourne100% renewable energy by 2021Carbon neutral by 2030
14WAUniversity of Western Australia100% renewable energy by 2025Energy carbon neutral by 2025

 

100% Renewables are experts in helping organisations develop their renewable energy strategies and timing actions appropriately. If you need help with developing emission scenarios that take into account policy settings, please contact  Barbara or Patrick.

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

How to account for exported solar electricity [new approach by Climate Active]

This blog post has been updated in Dec 19 to reflect the re-branding of NCOS to ‘Climate Active’. 

The treatment of energy generated from solar PV systems is an important consideration for organisations who have carbon reduction or renewable energy targets. Most people know that electricity generated from solar reduces their grid electricity purchases and thus their carbon emissions. However, what causes much confusion is how to correctly account for renewable electricity that your organisation has exported to the grid.

How to account for exported solar electricity
How to account for exported solar electricity

Why do solar PV systems send electricity to the grid?

Your onsite solar PV system can export to the grid when there is not enough energy demand at your building – for instance, on the weekend. It may also send solar power to the grid where you have oversized your PV system.

The old way of carbon accounting for exported solar electricity

It used to be that any excess electricity your solar PV systems produced was a carbon reduction ‘gift’ to the grid. You would have calculated your greenhouse gas emissions from electricity based on your grid electricity consumption at the applicable emissions factor, less GreenPower® or LGC purchases. Emissions from your organisation’s self-consumption of solar generation were zero, and solar energy exported to the grid was not accounted for.

Why this approach was problematic for some organisations

One of our clients with multiple sites receives a credit for exported solar energy under its retail agreement. From a billing perspective, the retailer nets off the exported energy against grid-supplied power. Effectively, our client receives a feed-in-tariff equal to retail energy rates at the applicable time-of-use period.

When presented on a bill our client sees a ‘net consumption’ figure on the retail energy section. This figure is captured by their carbon emissions software and emissions are calculated from this net figure. This led to our client claiming the abatement associated with the exported solar energy.

To accurately account for carbon, our client had to query their inverters and had to work with their carbon emissions software provider and their retailer to ensure that correct data was available – in other words, a lot of effort for a small benefit.

Luckily, in October 2018, the Department of Environment and Energy decided to trial a new carbon accounting approach.

The new way of carbon accounting for exported solar electricity

With a recent decision by the Department of Environment and Energy who administer the Climate Active to trial a new approach, you can now claim the carbon reduction from solar exports.

You are allowed to count electricity generated from renewable energy sources and exported into the electricity grid as a credit (or reduction) in your carbon account. The decision was made because exported energy is considered zero emissions and displaces the need for the generation of emissions-intensive energy elsewhere.

Eligibility criteria

To claim exported renewable electricity as a reduction in your carbon account, the exported electricity must:

  • be measurable and auditable, g. via electricity bills that show the amount of exported electricity; and
  • be generated by a renewable energy system under the operational control of the claiming entity; and
  • be generated from a small-scale renewable energy system (below 100 kW). It does not matter if small technology certificates have been received or sold for that generation; or
  • be generated from a large-scale renewable energy system (100 kW and above) that has not created any large generation certificates (LGCs) for the exported electricity; or
  • be generated from a large-scale system that has created LGCs for the exported electricity but have been voluntarily retired.

How to calculate the carbon emissions reduction for exported solar energy

You can calculate the value of the exported electricity by converting the amount of exported electricity into its carbon emissions equivalent. You need to multiply the amount of exported electricity by the scope 2 emissions factor for the state in which the electricity was generated. The scope 2 factor is used as it represents electricity generation as opposed to transmission and distribution.

The emissions value of exported electricity must be calculated using National Greenhouse Accounts (NGA) factors produced by the Department of Environment and Energy. At this stage, you cannot claim indirect electricity consumption calculated using alternative factors (non-NGA).

You can download the 2018 scope 2 NGA emissions factors here: http://www.environment.gov.au/climate-change/climate-science-data/greenhouse-gas-measurement/publications/national-greenhouse-accounts-factors-july-2018

For example, 10,000 kWh of exported electricity generated in NSW and the ACT is worth 8.2 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2-e). The following formulas show you how to calculate this:

10,000 kWh * 0.82 kg CO2-e/kWh = 8,200 kg CO2-e

8,200 kg CO2-e/1,000 = 8.2 kg CO2-e

How to report the carbon reduction

You can report the exported electricity in your Climate Active documentation by summing all total emission sources and then subtracting the emissions value of the exported electricity to give total net emissions.

You can use exported electricity (or Greenpower®/LGCs) to reduce all direct and indirect electricity emission sources, e.g. imported electricity, base building electricity, electricity consumed from street lights or a data centre. For more information on the treatment of LGCs you may also refer to two of our previous blog posts:

Example of a carbon reduction calculation

The following table shows an example of how you would account for your exported solar electricity.

Example carbon account for exported solar electricity

SourceActivity dataScopeEmissions (t CO2-e)
Total net emissions1,495
Electricity1,000 MWh2820
T&D losses electricity1,000 MWh3100
Base-building electricity54 MWh350
Data centre electricity consumption326 MWh3300
Waste21 t325
Water use13 kL33
Paper use9 t310
Business travel – flights574,036 km3190
Food and catering$23,490335
Total gross emissions1,533
Emissions reduced through GreenPower/ voluntarily retired LGCs30
Emissions reduced through exported/ surplus renewable energy8

Conclusion

No matter whether your system is small-scale (under 100 kW) or large-scale (over 100 kW), you can claim the carbon reduction for your onsite as well as your export portion. Bear in mind that if your system is greater than 100 kW, you need to retire your LGCs to claim the carbon reduction benefit.

Carbon accounting can be difficult. If you need help with accounting correctly for your greenhouse gas emissions, or if you want to go carbon neutral, please contact Barbara.

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.

What you need to know about accounting for LGCs, STCs, ESCs, VEECs, ACCUs

This blog post has been updated in Dec 19 to reflect the re-branding of NCOS to ‘Climate Active’.

For many sustainability managers, navigating the many acronyms that exist for renewable energy certificates like LGCs and state-based certificate schemes like ESCs for carbon reduction activities can be confusing. Some schemes are federal; others are state-based. Some relate to energy, others to carbon. Some can be used for carbon reduction; others can’t. To make sense of these three and four-letter acronyms, we thought it was time to publish a blog post on this topic.

Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs)

Description

Once electricity from renewable sources enters the grid, it mixes with electrons from multiple sources, like coal-fired power plants, and becomes indistinguishable. To track renewable energy, Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) are assigned for every megawatt hour created from renewables. Each REC is assigned its own unique number to track the ownership of the environmental (and social) benefits of the renewable energy. They can be traded separately from the underlying electricity.

Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs)
Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs)

Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) were created to spur the development of renewable energy generation through a market-based mechanism of supply and demand. A REC has a financial value attached to it, which fluctuates depending on prevailing market conditions.

In Australia, RECs are supported by Australia’s Renewable Energy Target, which states that by 2020, 33,000 GWh must be generated from renewable sources (this equates to about 23.5% of the overall total). The scheme ends in 2030.

RECs are divided into Small Scale Technology Certificates (STCs) and Large-Scale Generation Certificates (LGCs).

Treatment

The party that owns the REC owns the claim to that megawatt hour of renewable energy. Renewable energy certificates are used to offset electricity consumption. They cannot be used to offset other emission sources like fuel consumption or Scope 3 emissions like waste or business travel.

Small-scale Technology Certificates (STCs)

Description

STCs are like an upfront subsidy for renewable energy systems that are under 100kW. They are deemed upfront and come with your renewable energy installation.

Treatment

Under previous Australian carbon accounting rules (Climate Active) selling the STCs (i.e., claiming the subsidy) meant that you were not allowed to account for the emission reduction. However, under revised Climate Active’s rules, behind-the-meter energy usage originating from small-scale onsite generation systems can now be treated as zero-emissions energy, regardless of whether any STCs have been created, sold or transferred to any other party. This applies to systems installed in the past as well as future installations.

As such, you can add the self-consumption of electricity from your solar PV systems to your total demand for electricity, and this generation is treated as zero-emissions electricity for your carbon footprint. You can also use the generated renewable electricity against your renewable energy target.

Large-scale Generation Certificates (LGCs) from onsite renewable energy generation

Description

If your renewable energy system is larger than 100kW, you are eligible for one LGC for every megawatt hour your solar PV system generates. As opposed to STCs, the LGCs are not deemed upfront. You need to keep track of your renewable energy generation on an annual basis to be able to create and then sell LGCs. While LGCs currently have a much higher market value than STCs, this can change in line with the supply and demand for certificates by liable entities (like electricity retailers).

Treatment

If you sell the LGCs, you will generate income. However, if you sell your LGCs, the carbon reduction and renewable energy generation associated with the energy generated cannot be claimed.

According to the Climate Active, behind-the-meter energy usage originating from large-scale onsite generation systems that have created LGCs can be treated as zero-emissions energy only if the equivalent amount of LGCs are voluntarily retired. Behind-the-meter energy usage that is not matched by an equivalent amount of voluntarily retired LGCs must be accounted for in the same way as grid-based energy, and offset accordingly if a carbon neutral strategy is pursued.

Large-scale Generation Certificates (LGCs) from offsite renewable energy generation

Description

Rather than having a system onsite, you can purchase LGCs from a renewable energy project that is grid-connected, or offsite. There are principally two options to purchase offsite LGCs – either through a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) or through a broker.

Treatment

Large-scale Generation Certificates (LGCs) are treated the same as the purchase of GreenPower® provided the certificates are retired. If you have entered into a PPA without obtaining and retiring the LGCs (purchasing the black portion only), then you cannot claim the emissions reduction/renewable energy attributes from the project.

 

A note on surplus electricity

The treatment of surplus electricity from renewable energy and batteries from the perspective of renewable energy and carbon abatement claims is complex. You can read more about this topic in our blog post at  https://100percentrenewables.com.au/how-to-account-for-exported-solar-electricity/.

GreenPower®

Description

The GreenPower® program is an independent government accreditation scheme and is recognised as the most highly regarded standard for offsite renewables in Australia. GreenPower® purchases are additional to Australia’s Renewable Energy Target, and an extensive two-tier auditing process ensures that no double counting can occur. To purchase GreenPower®, you can approach your electricity retailer, buy from an independent provider, decoupled from your electricity agreement or through a GreenPower® PPA.

Treatment

The purchase of GreenPower® is considered to be equivalent to the direct use of renewable energy. This means that you can claim the emissions reduction associated with this action. You can also use purchased GreenPower® towards your renewable energy claims.

Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCUs)

Description

The Emission Reduction Fund (ERF) is a voluntary scheme that provides incentives for organisations and individuals to adopt new practices and technologies to reduce their emissions. Participants can earn ACCUs for emissions reductions. The ACCUs can be sold to the Commonwealth under a carbon abatement contract with the Clean Energy Regulator, or they can be sold on the voluntary market and are eligible as offset units under the Climate Active.

Treatment

If you generate ACCUs from emissions reduction projects occurring within your boundary, you can claim the reduction as part of your carbon account only if the ACCUs from your projects are voluntarily retired. If the ACCUs are not retired, you are required to account for your emissions without the reductions associated with the projects (i.e. as though the projects had never occurred).

Carbon offsets

Description

One carbon offset represents one tonne of carbon emissions that are not released into the atmosphere, that occur as a result of a discrete project. The emissions reductions from a particular carbon offset project can be sold to enable the purchaser to claim those carbon reductions as their own. Renewable energy is one type of offset activity, but there are many others like energy efficiency or forestry projects.

Treatment

Carbon offsets can be used to offset any emission source, including ones that are not electricity related. You cannot use carbon offset for any renewable energy claims.

State-based white certificate schemes

Description

Several jurisdictions have energy efficiency schemes that require energy retailers to achieve energy efficiency in their customer portfolio. The NSW Energy Savings Scheme and the Victorian Energy Efficiency Target Scheme are the biggest in terms of number of certificates. The ACT and South Australia operate similar, but smaller schemes mainly targeting households and small business.

Energy Savings Certificates (ESCs) – New South Wales only

ESCs created under the Energy Savings Scheme (ESS) reward energy-saving projects through a financial value on every tonne of carbon that is abated by an organisation. The objective of the scheme is to reward companies that undertake projects that either reduce electricity consumption or improve the efficiency of energy use. The ESS began on the 1st July 2009 and is part of the NSW Government’s plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions. The scheme is legislated to run until 2025 or until there is an equivalent national energy efficiency scheme.

Victorian Energy Efficiency Certificates (VEECs) -Victoria only

The VEET scheme was established under the Victorian Energy Efficiency Target Act 2007 and commenced on 1 January 2009. Each VEEC represents one tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2-e) abated by specified energy saving activities known as prescribed activities. The abatement is calculated by comparing the difference between the energy use after the completion of an upgrade or project and the ‘baseline’ energy use, which refers to the amount of energy that would have been used if the energy efficient installation/project had not taken place. VEECs are bought by large energy retailers with a liability under the scheme.

Treatment of white certificate schemes

You are not required to account for state or territory-based energy efficiency schemes. Emissions reductions resulting from activities supported by these schemes can be counted towards your carbon account regardless of whether any associated certificates have been created, sold or transferred to any other party. So, in short, you can claim the ESCs/VEECs/other white certificates and the carbon reduction.

 

Carbon accounting for all these different federal and state schemes can be confusing, as may be accounting for your Scope 3 emissions. If you need an expert to help you with putting your carbon inventory together, 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.