Clarifying the treatment of green power instruments.
For most companies, emissions associated with electricity consumption (scope 2) represent a significant portion of the total GHG inventory. While companies can take action to reduce energy consumption through energy conservation and efficiency improvements, much potential lies in reducing the emissions associated with the underlying source of energy production. For some companies operating on fossil-fueled energy grids, this has meant installing on-site renewable energy and consuming the zero-emissions output, thereby lowering the MWh’s purchased from the grid. But many energy markets around the world provide opportunities to select suppliers with renewable energy offerings, or to purchase the rights and benefits of renewable energy independent of commodity electricity.
GHG accounting issues for purchased energy products
- Attributes and Intended Uses
- Identifying the emissions attributes contained in renewable energy instruments and purchasing mechanisms
- Identify intended uses of instrument, including as: means of impacting emissions calculation in end-user scope 2 inventories; mechanism for energy supplier disclosure; tracking instrument for supplier quotas, etc.
- Quality Assurance of Renewable Energy Instruments
- Identifying requirements for renewable energy purchasing mechanisms such as clear statement of attributes, prevention of double counting (see below), approval for use by reporting or governmental program, appropriately matching vintage of instrument with annual scope 2 calculation, etc.
- Double Counting
- Preventing explicit double counting of emission attributes through use of certificate registries and tracking systems
- Preventing implicit double counting of emission attributes through adjustment of other calculation sources and mechanisms used in scope 2 accounting
- Identifying best practices for treatment of “null power” where certificates have been sold from generation
- Overlapping Power Sector Policies
- Surveying regional approaches to accounting for renewable energy purchasing within an emissions- capped power sector
- Additionality and Eligibility
- Identifying the range of reporting program and consumers expectations about the full environmental and market impacts of renewable energy purchasing mechanisms and their ability to drive new renewable development
- Distinguishing these expectations from the core criteria necessary
- Calculation and Reporting
- Identifying appropriate calculation and reporting procedures for reflecting renewable energy attribute ownership in scope 2 of a GHG inventory
To answer the questions listed above and harmonize GHG accounting practices worldwide, the GHG Protocol has begun a process to develop Power Accounting Guidelines. These Guidelines are primarily designed to assist organizations preparing corporate inventories and mitigation strategies. Voluntary and mandatory GHG programs using GHG Protocol reporting standards can also integrate these Guidelines into the reporting practices for scope 2. The Guidelines will consist of internationally-relevant principles from the stakeholder development process with attention on how those principles apply to specific renewable energy purchasing products and certificates in different regions throughout the world.
Development Process and Timeline
The GHG Protocol began investigating these questions through initial scoping roundtables in December 2010 with energy experts in Washington DC, London, and Mexico City. Technical Working Groups have formed around specific issue areas, a draft is currently available for the public comment period that is open Thursday, March 13th, through Monday, April 21st, 2014. Final publication of the Guidelines is scheduled for Spring 2014.
The work was recently presented at two conferences in November 2011: on a panel on GHG accounting for RE at the Renewable Energy Markets Conference (organized by the Center for Resource Solutions) and the Air and Waste Management Association’s conference on GHG Strategies in a Changing Climate.
If you are interested in learning more about the work or joining a Technical Working Group, please contact Mary Sotos at email@example.com.