Month: September 2017

Three key takeaways from VERGE 2017

verge2017

VERGE 2017 took place last week. As a conference that promotes itself as where “technology meets sustainability” it had a wide mandate with topics ranging from smart infrastructure and circular economy, to connected transportation and mobility, to renewable energy procurement. About half the schedule was dedicated to large plenary presentations, with the balance of the time in multi-track breakout sessions. And many times, it was difficult to decide what breakouts to attend – a good problem to have.

I was fortunate enough to attend the conference, along with several of my colleagues. Not surprisingly, I was most focused on attending sessions related to renewable energy. So, with that in mind, here are a few of my key takeaways from the conference:

  • The market needs education about renewable energy procurement options I saw and heard considerable interest in corporates buying renewable energy – it was one of the most popular sessions I attended. And because the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance (REBA) was meeting in the days ahead of VERGE, there were many sophisticated companies in the room. But there is a gulf between the handful of market players actively making long term investments in renewable energy and the vast majority that don’t have the necessary load, or balance sheet, or internal knowledge needed to do so. There is clearly opportunity to innovate and educate.
  • It’s very early days in discussions about blockchain technology: The break out sessions on this topic were packed, but the panelists and the audience represented a very wide range of understanding about how and where blockchain technology might be relevant. One panelist stated: “Just because you could use blockchain doesn’t mean you should. Maybe you just need a spreadsheet.” With use cases still far and few between, the key question for now seems to be how to know what you need.
  • We need a positive message about our environmental challenges. Jon Foley, executive director of California Academy of Sciences spoke passionately about the need to change the conversation about climate change. We need to speak about hope not fear; solutions, not problems; collaboration not conflict. To help reframe the conversation, the museum is launch Planet Vision in January. The goal is to paint a clear and optimistic vision about how we can tackle some of the most pressing environmental problems we have including food, water and energy. 

Overall, I left the conference energized and excited to be part of defining what is next at the intersection of technology and sustainability.

3Degrees announces request for proposals for equity audit

equity audit3Degrees is seeking a third-party group to work with our diversity & inclusion committee, executive team, HR, and individual employees across the company to conduct an equity assessment/audit at the beginning of 2018, and provide recommendations to be incorporated into early 2018 goals. The full request for proposal, including instructions for submission and deadlines, can be downloaded here.

Background

At the end of 2016, we formed an employee-led diversity & inclusion committee and began forming company-wide goals for improvements in equity focused policies, processes and culture. We also created and submitted several goals to align with the BCorp Inclusion Challenge.

One of these goals centers specifically around completing an equity audit. Our hope is that this will include an assessment of our current efforts to create an equitable work environment for current and future employees as well as identify how to improve our recruitment practices to ensure maximum inclusion and build policies to better support equity through our partnerships with suppliers and vendors.

Although we’ve already implemented several diversity & inclusion trainings for employees, we recognize how important it is to establish an understanding of where we are at as a company. We’re confident that an equity audit will inform our goals and efforts moving forward.

3Degrees named “Best for the World” by B Lab

image: a forest scene with the B-corp logo

In the top 10% of certified B Corporations worldwide for governance

3Degrees was recently honored for our accomplishments by B Lab, the nonprofit organization that certifies B Corporations. Specifically, we were recognized in the “Best for the World: Long Term” category as a result of our mission driven, transparent governance.

The 2017 Best for the World for the Long Term evaluates companies on their adoption of  a social or environmental mission, and how they engages employees, board members and the community to achieve that mission. Moreover, it assesses employee access to financial information, customers’ opportunities to provide feedback, and the diversity of the company’s governing bodies.

“Receiving this award from B Lab is testimony to one of our company values – that we are passionate about our mission…really,” said Steve McDougal, CEO of 3Degrees.  “It’s a great tribute to the work that our employees do every day to make sure that we live the values of the B Corp movement.”

Only the top 10 percent of Certified B Corporations received awards. 2017 Best for the Long Term companies winners represent 79 different industries and 13 countries.

This is the third time that 3Degrees has received a Best for the World award. In 2016, we won in the Best for the Environment category, and in 2013, we won  in the Best for the Worker category.

3Degrees has been a certified B Corp since 2012 and continually strives to improve our performance across all metrics, including social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency.

 

I-REC: A renewable energy option in international markets

china at night

In 2015, the World Resources Institute (WRI) unveiled new guidance for Scope 2 emissions accounting within the Greenhouse Gas Protocol Corporate Standard. This update introduced a market-based accounting mechanism that gives companies the opportunity to reduce their Scope 2 emissions through the purchase of renewable energy certificates, PPAs, and other contractual instruments. This provision has driven a new focus on global energy purchasing, with more organizations looking for options across the globe.

Product Profile

The I-REC, an international renewable energy certificate, represents proof that one MWh of electricity was produced from renewable energy sources and added to the grid. It embodies all of the environmental attributes of renewable generation.  The source can be wind, solar, ocean energy, biomass, hydropower, landfill gas, aerothermal, geothermal and landfill gas. 3Degrees only transacts in I-RECs issued in countries authorized by the 2016 International REC Standard and traded on the I-REC international registry. This standard establishes rules and regulations for a transparent system that simplifies claims and eliminates double counting issues, making products compliant with Scope 2 reporting guidelines.

IRECs chart

Regulatory Considerations

In some cases, I-REC has country specific restrictions on technology or other criteria. In addition, individual countries many have their own specific regulations and protocols above and beyond the I-REC standards.

IRECs map

IRECs map in 2017

For more information on renewable energy options across the globe, contact us.

Vietnam biogas

vietnam

Vietnam biogas

Groundbreaking bio-digestor project reduces greenhouse gases and improves lives in Vietnam

Animal waste can produce large amounts of methane, a very potent greenhouse gas. Run off from the manure also can impact water quality in nearby streams and rivers. While dairy methane digesters are a well known solution for large scale operations, a different solution was needed in rural Vietnam, where over 2 million families raise pigs on a small scale.

This project is run by a non-profit organization that uses its funding to establish new digester manufacturing franchises and to train local franchisees on how to build new digester projects. These small-scale digesters capture methane gas from animal waste related to small family animal husbandry in rural Vietnam. Captured gas is used for cooking and lighting in households.

The project has already built 150,000 biogas digesters, with a goal of completing 180,000 by 2018, and has helped 700,000 people in 53 rural Vietnamese provinces.

Environmental and Social Benefits

In areas that lack adequate manure management, biogas technology can help to address hygiene and odor issues and reduce the pollution of waterways. The clean energy produced by a digester can be used to power stoves for cooking, as well as appliances such as lamps and boilers. The generation of biogas also creates a valuable fertilizer by-product that increases farmers’ agricultural yields. Among the project’s co-benefits are:  

+ reduced working time for women (searching for fuel) by 1.5-2.0 hours each day

+ increased crop yields by 5-20% due to use of organic fertilizer by-product

+ approximately 64,000 avoided cases of respiratory illness from indoor air pollution

+ new revenue stream for local masons constructing the digesters

The project has received multiple awards including the World Energy Award (2012), the Ashden Award (2010) and the Energy Globe Award (2006). The sale of Gold Standard carbon credits enables the program to train more people in digester construction and maintenance, thus reaching additional farm families.

3Degrees + Carbon Offsets

At 3Degrees, we are committed to bringing high quality carbon offset projects to the market, providing our customers with unique and meaningful projects.

Run of river hydro project in China

china

Run of river hydro project in China

Low-impact hydro project provides multiple benefits in rural China

This bundle of almost 100 small and micro hydro plants provides China’s rural and mountainous southwest with emission-free energy. Without the need for a retaining dam, the plants use natural height differences to generate sustainable power. This allows the projects to avoid a number of issues associated with dam construction, including flooding, resettlement, environmental impacts on river plants and animals.

Until recently, light and heat for homes in this rural region came from burning wood (which lead to deforestation and soil erosion) or from dirty and inefficient diesel generators. Now, the use of locally produced renewable energy allows for sustainable development without emissions harmful to people and planet. The emission reductions result from the replacement of carbon-intensive coal power – still common in China – with clean hydro power.

Environmental and Social Benefits

The project also brings additional benefits to local communities, including:

+ The creation of new jobs for local residents, many of whom are ethnic minorities. These jobs have been in both construction and maintenance, with training on the job and healthcare benefits above local standards.   

+ Providing local farmers with new irrigation opportunities and training in new skills such as tree grafting.

+ Improvements to local roads, reducing travel time and effort to local and regional cities.  

+ Reducing the incidence of respiratory disease in the local population as families transition to clean energy and away from using open fireplaces for cooking and heating.

3Degrees + Carbon Offsets

At 3Degrees, we are committed to bringing high quality carbon offset projects to the market, providing our customers with unique and meaningful projects.

OneEnergy Renewables and 3Degrees announce partnership on Energy Scholars Program

energy scholars

Seeking tomorrow’s renewable energy industry leaders for the 2018 program. Applications due September 24. 

In partnership with nonprofit Net Impact, OneEnergy Renewables and 3Degrees today announced they are partnering to advance the next generation of renewable energy industry leaders through a career advancement award program. The Energy Scholars program recognizes graduate students who have demonstrated outstanding leadership and commitment to building a cleaner energy future.

Through executive mentorships, industry networking, and internships, the Energy Scholars program is a proven platform for students as they begin their careers in the renewable energy industry. The program benefits each student differently based upon their area of focus and interest.

“We are thrilled to partner with 3Degrees on Energy Scholars. This partnership will expand the program’s benefits and the scholar’s experience,” said Jennifer Barnes, vice president of operations and communications at OneEnergy Renewables. “The goal of Energy Scholars has always been to cultivate exceptional leaders from a variety of backgrounds as they start their careers in the renewable energy industry. With 3Degrees, we look forward to continuing to expand industry diversity through this program.”

To learn more about the 2018 Energy Scholars program, or to submit an application before the September 24 deadline, please visit the Energy Scholars Program page. Past Energy Scholars are employed in renewable energy and sustainability positions at distinguished institutions including Amazon, National Grid, NRG Energy, SoCal Edison, Borrego Solar, Ecova, PG&E, CustomerFirst Renewables, Northrop Grumann, Rocky Mountain Institute, CAAPITAL, Nike, National Grid, Hitachi, OneEnergy Renewables and more.

“Thanks to OneEnergy’s vision six years ago, this program has already provided valuable experience for dozens of previous winners,” said Adam Capage, vice president of corporate and government affairs at 3Degrees. “3Degrees is honored to partner with OneEnergy and we hope to help broaden the impact and opportunities of the Energy Scholar Program over time.”

Awardees will be announced on October 3, 2017. Up to eight scholars will be selected for the 2018 Energy Scholars class and honored during the Net Impact Conference, being held Atlanta, October 26-28, 2017.

 

About OneEnergy Renewables
OneEnergy Renewables is an independent developer of solar energy projects across North America, with a focus on commercial, institutional and utility customers. Our experienced team of renewable energy professionals pair de-risked projects with advanced energy procurement and financial solutions to deliver construction-ready and operational solar assets.

 

 

Guarantees of Origin: An option for renewable energy in Europe

europe street

In 2015, the World Resources Institute (WRI) unveiled new guidance for Scope 2 emissions accounting within the Greenhouse Gas Protocol Corporate Standard. This update introduced a market-based accounting mechanism that gives companies the opportunity to reduce their Scope 2 emissions through the purchase of renewable energy certificates, PPAs, etc. This provision has driven a new focus on global energy purchasing, with more organizations looking for options across the globe.  

Product profile

The Guarantee of Origin is a voluntary renewable energy product, currently available within 20 European countries. Similar to a REC in the U.S., a GO represents the environmental attributes (but not the power) associated with renewable energy.

A GO represents one megawatt hour of electricity from a renewable resource. The European Energy Certificate System (EECS) certifies and registers each GO, preventing double counting and identifying the source of the GO and the method of production. GOs , include a wider set of technologies than US RECs do, including hydropower, biomass, and combined heat and power (CHP).

GO certificates are viable for 12 months from the date of issue.   

GOs details

 

Regulatory considerations

The European voluntary market is well defined with clear norms of transparency and accountability. However, there are some complexities to the market that are important to understand. Although the EECS system creates rules around the creation and transfer of GOs, there are some country specific rules that can impact customers, specifically around project eligibility and GO retirement.

GOs map

Note: As of September 2017, Lithuania and Greece are in the process of applying to participate. Portugal and Britain are in active discussions.

Innovative renewable energy project in Asia reduces emissions and costs

rooftop solar

Aggregated rooftop solar enables multinational corporate to meet renewable energy goals

A large corporation with facilities around the globe wanted to address their emissions from electricity in the Asia Pacific region. With 3Degrees’ help, the company signed a long-term Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) from an offsite aggregated solar rooftop project spanning more than 500 buildings. New renewable energy opportunities are difficult to bring to fruition in many Asian nations, but we were able to identify and source this opportunity to support the client’s need for renewable energy and also support their energy load by integrating this project into their retail energy contract. Additionally, this deal structure had never been done locally before, positioning the company as a market leader.

Key challenges

Although the client had extensive experience executing renewable energy transactions in the United States, the client’s needs globally present fundamentally different challenges. Many of their facility loads are comparatively small, in nations with limited renewable resources or infrastructure and corporate purchasing is in its infancy.

Navigating energy markets in Asia can be particularly challenging and potentially risky due to rapidly evolving market conditions and regulatory environments. In this case, the location of interest had land constraints and a relatively small local renewable energy industry. These limitations made it impossible to use competitive commercial renewable contracts or to access cost-effective utility-scale projects. It required a unique solution with a deal structure that had never been executed in this region.

How we helped

3Degrees designed and executed a strategy to source renewable energy supply that could serve the client’s own facilities, as well as be available to trusted partners.To do this, we conducted market price and risk analysis based on historical price fluctuations and power market structure. Once the client understood the market and risks, we helped them develop a targeted list of project opportunities and conducted due diligence on the most suitable projects. With the targeted project concept and strategy agreed on, the client needed to develop direct relationships with local entities as this was a new concept and involved many stakeholders. To do this, 3Degrees provided introductions between the client, project developers, energy retailers and technology providers. With all stakeholders in agreement, we supported the client in the early stage of contract negotiations.

Results

  • Client signed a long-term PPA for power generated by an aggregated portfolio of commercial and residential rooftop solar PV; the power is delivered via a power retailer to the company’s facilities
  • Installations spanned more than 500 buildings  
  • Reduced client’s energy costs as compared to the standard energy mix from their previous provider
  • Client is now expanding its international renewable portfolio to other regions

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