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.
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.
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.
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 in 2017
For more information on renewable energy options across the globe, contact us.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Note: As of September 2017, Lithuania and Greece are in the process of applying to participate. Portugal and Britain are in active discussions.
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.
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.
- 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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