Month: January 2022

Thoughtful solutions for all as the global climate movement accelerates in 2022

It’s 2022. We’re two years into this decade, and it’s a critical time for the world as we accelerate action to mitigate the most disastrous effects of climate change. Time is running short. Time also has a tricky way of getting away from us (as this already turbulent decade has shown us); and as I look at the year ahead and beyond, I’m thinking about what matters most. What are the tangible actions that need to happen, now, today, to make the most positive impact on climate change?

At 3Degrees, we help businesses and their customers take urgent action on climate change. So, I’m thinking about how we can help more businesses take more urgent and impactful action to reduce emissions. To that end, I’d like to share three specific areas where our team is honing in to help accelerate corporate climate action in the year ahead.

Higher standards demand sophisticated solutions

Organizations around the world are increasingly pursuing more aggressive emission reduction goals. Many companies whose initial commitments focused on addressing Scope 2 emissions are now elevating their ambitions to match the urgency of the climate crisis. They are setting net zero goals or science-based targets that address a wider range of climate impacts, and are therefore seeking more comprehensive climate solutions.

In 3Degrees’ work with our customers, we’ve found that more robust decarbonization goals demand a more holistic approach and sophisticated solutions. From a thoughtful combination of human partnership and bespoke advice, to a broader suite of solutions that address all scopes of emissions, customers need and expect more support on their quest to deliver on every detail of their climate commitments. Additionally, technology solutions are becoming mission critical to help manage measurement, monitoring, reporting, and more — especially as companies get deeper into addressing their value chain emissions. I’m excited to leverage the 3Degrees team’s deep bench of experience and advance our technology suite this year to provide important tools to climate leaders to meet their aggressive goals.

Global solutions are needed to address global supply chains

As our customers set more ambitious climate targets, it is not uncommon for them to encounter increasingly complex challenges, particularly with respect to global supply chain emissions in their Scope 3 footprint. As organizations commit to these goals, they are looking for additional support and guidance on topics ranging from setting effective supplier engagement strategies, to understanding the market-specific tools available to implement these strategies for their transnational business operations.

As organizations embark on this journey to address their global emissions footprint, and encounter larger, more complex questions along the way, they need the support of an experienced global advisor more than ever before. At 3Degrees, our teams are scaling to support this increased need, building on our experience working in 80+ countries to pursue more innovative and impactful global solutions that meet the moment, as well as staying close to market-specific regulatory and policy shifts that can impact execution of climate plans.

Thousands join the movement for corporate climate action

Climate leaders are not the only ones pursuing accelerated climate action. The urgency of the climate crisis has also spurred a wave of new companies that are both setting initial goals and strengthening existing decarbonization commitments. For example, the number of RE100 member companies has more than doubled since 2019, and a record 6,000+ companies reported to CDP in 2021. And we know there are many more working to get there.

As thousands of companies get started on the path to reduce emissions, they’ll need more education and guidance to enable them to make a positive impact quickly, often with more limited resources and knowledge. Increasingly, companies are starting to treat their carbon emissions like they treat their taxes — calculable, auditable, and their responsibility. And similar to managing taxes, managing emissions reductions is a complex and opaque subject matter that is best left to expert partners. Our team at 3Degrees will be at the ready to meet these customers where they are on their sustainability journey and provide them with the necessary support, information, and decarbonization options to help them meet their goals.

I want to make one final, important point as we forge ahead into the new year: amid growing momentum toward climate action, my team and I have been reflecting and educating ourselves about our role in advancing a Just Transition to the low-carbon future. Traditionally marginalized groups are disproportionately affected by climate change, and not all climate solutions deliver benefits in an equitable way. 3Degrees is committed to integrating the principles of a Just Transition in the products and services we deliver, and are pursuing further focus here as we build for the future.

My hope is that we’ll look back on 2022 as the year of accelerated action and thoughtful impact in the global fight against climate change.

Journey to Zero: Four key action areas to achieve net zero emissions

To address the growing climate crisis, more organizations than ever before are setting climate goals, such as net zero, carbon neutrality, or SBTi goals. But committing to reach net zero emissions and executing on climate goals are two very different things. In this free “Journey to Zero” white paper, we’ll discuss how organizations can embrace this climate opportunity, and outline the four key action areas to help companies get started on their journey to zero, including:

  • Fully integrating decarbonization efforts into an organization’s business strategy — from articulating a business case for action, to taking inventory on GHG emissions.
  • Actions that organizations can take to address their emissions from operational activities. For example: electricity purchased to operate office and manufacturing facilities where fossil fuels are burned to make the electricity
  • Addressing Scope 3 value chain emissions, which constitute the majority of GHG emissions for most organizations
  • Using carbon credits — also known as carbon offsets or verified emissions reductions or removals (VERs) — to compensate for emissions that remain after all other internal reduction measures have been implemented

Download the white paper

Armadillo Flats Wind Project

Armadillo Flats Wind Project

The Oklahoma wind industry continues to steadily grow each year, and remains a leader in North American renewable energy resources. Once a leader in United States’ oil production, Oklahoma now ranks second in the nation for total wind energy generation. Armadillo Flats is a 247.3 MW wind farm located an hour north of Oklahoma City. The wind project is operated by NextEra Energy, and involves agreements from 300 landowners to open up the area to renewable energy production.

All photos courtesy of GE Renewable Energy

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Co-benefits

Environmental

+ Where oil wells once were, wind blades now dominate the landscape. This region of the United States is expanding offshore wind installations, drastically reducing carbon emissions.

Economic

+ The expansion of renewable energy in Oklahoma has enhanced rural economies by offering green job opportunities in the installation and maintenance of wind farms.

 

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South Peak Wind Project

South Peak Wind Project

Located in central Montana, South Peak is a 80 MW wind farm that sells power to NorthWestern Energy, an arrangement that was defined in a 15-year power purchase contract. Allete Clean Energy developed the project, which comprises 29 General Electric wind turbines. Energy generated from South Peak Wind Farm is enough to power about 35,000 homes. Once heavily reliant on coal- and gas-generated electricity, Montana is now a leader in renewable energy generation in the United States; however, the state still has room for improvement. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Montana is ranked fifth for potential onshore wind power, although it currently ranks 24th in the nation for actual installed capacity, with a total of 720 MW of wind energy.

Photos courtesy of Allete Clean Energy

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Co-benefits

Environmental

+ Coal-fired plants have typically provided the majority of Montana’s electricity generation. The utility’s use of wind energy from South Peak has a carbon dioxide offset of about 207,000 tons annually.

Economic

+ On top of the jobs created in the construction of South Peak, 3-5 additional employment opportunities have been created during commercial operation.

 

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PosiGen Rooftop Solar Project Profile

Solar Power For All program helps LMI communities lower their energy costs

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina’s devastation, New Orleans sought to rebuild; they endeavored to make their homes more efficient, affordable and more resistant to future storm destruction. PosiGen Solar saw the disparity of support and relief programs for low-to-moderate income (LMI) communities and found an opportunity to change the equation by partnering with Greater New Orleans Housing Association and Solar Alternatives to implement solar power for all. Its mission is to make solar affordable and accessible to everyone, particularly (LMI) communities and communities of color. They offer clean energy solutions to 100% of solar feasible homes and small business owners through city and community supported outreach and education.

Through the Solar Power for All program, they are making it possible for families in underserved Louisana communities to invest in their homes, save money on their utility bills, and take steps toward a brighter future with rooftop solar energy, home battery backup systems, and energy efficiency upgrades. The four primary goals of PosiGen’s solar program is to make an impact on the families they serve, provide job opportunities in the communities in which they are active, support growth in low income communities and communities of color, and to have a positive impact on the environment.

 

“With the savings, I’ll be able to put some money aside for my grandson, fix up my house, we might be able to go take a trip somewhere. To put aside that kind of money for him, I think that would be beautiful.” 

-Mary Christmas, Solar Power for All Participant

 

Co-benefits

Environmental

+ To date, PosiGen has installed solar for ~14,600+ customers.

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The project has generated nearly 64M KWh in solar production. Each kilowatt-hour of solar that is generated will substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

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The project has prevented 80k metric tons of carbon from being released into the   atmosphere, which is the equivalent of 89M lbs of coal.

Economic

+ In total, PosiGen customers have a net $7.5M in monthly cost savings due to the unique business model of low-cost rooftop solar panel leasing combined with energy-efficiency upgrades, such as blower door tests, and smart thermostat installations.

Social

+ The Solar Power For All program extends the benefits of renewable energy to LMI communities by making solar accessible to everyone, regardless of credit score or income, as 9,000 customers have FICO scores below 700 and 7,000 customers make less than $50,000 per year.

 


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Uganda P-REC Solar Project

First-ever Ugandan P-RECs provide funding for community streetlights

The regions of the world most affected by crises tend to be those most vulnerable to climate change, and are largely excluded from climate finance flows and related investment. In addition, conflict-affected communities tend to experience high levels of energy poverty and face issues like hunger, malnutrition, and lack of basic human necessities. Peace Renewable Energy Credits (P-RECS) have the potential to expand the renewable energy revolution to vulnerable regions, improve quality of life, and create economic opportunities. A P-REC is an International Renewable Energy Credit (I-REC) with an additional certification by Energy Peace Partners (EPP) of the social and economic co-benefits associated with the project. 

Developers like Winch Energy are extending the benefits of solar energy to countries in Africa, where REC markets have yet to be fully developed. In Northern Uganda’s Lamwo district, Winch recently equipped 25 villages with 40kWp off-grid solutions, also known as Remote Power Units (RPU), all of which have been commissioned and are fully operational as of June 2022.

In a second phase, 6,000 portable batteries will be deployed for villagers that reside too far to gain direct access to the power unit. Developed specifically to broaden access to reliable, affordable clean energy in off-grid communities, Winch’s off-grid solutions enhance public services such as healthcare and education, create new economic opportunities, and improve overall living conditions. 

Starting in 2022, approximately 900 P-RECs are projected to be issued each year, although energy production will be dependent on energy off-taker demand. These would be the first P-RECs to be issued and sold from Uganda. P-REC purchases from Winch’s off-grid plants in Lamwo will fund the phased implementation of a community solar project that will improve safety and security and support livelihoods.

Photo courtesy of Winch Energy

 

Co-benefits

Environmental

+ The solar mini grids reduce the need for carbon intensive forms of energy that are typical in Northern Uganda. This has a direct climate mitigation impact by reducing local air pollution produced by previous sources of energy (e.g., kerosene) and decreasing carbon emissions.

Economic

+ Winch’s solar sites are providing first-time electrification to underserved and underdeveloped rural communities. The solar sites are creating around 32 permanent jobs, with many more having been provided during the construction phase. As household connections increase, take-up of productive use appliances will stimulate the local economy.

Health/Social

+ The mini-grid and streetlight projects will provide cold storage for community health centers, allowing the storage of medicines and vaccines. Access to regular lighting will greatly increase the quality of maternal care.

+ The P-REC-funded community streetlights will increase safety and security and allow local businesses to stay open longer by operating night markets. The electricity connections enabled by the solar mini grids will increase overall quality of life for rural Ugandan households. For example, lighting will allow more children to attend school, while productive use of electricity will support socio-economic development, including women-led businesses.


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Kentucky Solar Stewards Project

Local solar generation reduces the energy burden for LMI communities in Louisville

Solar Stewards is a program dedicated to facilitating the development of distributed generation solar on-site to historically marginalized communities. Their Solarize program in Louisville, Kentucky helps local under-resourced communities reap the benefits of solar energy. Residential clean energy can drastically reduce a household’s energy burden, but systemic barriers, such as lack of solar outreach, financial challenges, and home ownership issues have prevented low-income groups from participating in solar programs. However, bulk purchasing makes residential solar possible in low-income communities, because it provides an opportunity to use collective buying power. As a result, the entire community has access to discounted, wholesale electricity rates. This bulk purchasing installation program facilitates the equitable adoption and advancement of solar energy.

When on-site solar energy is generated, Social Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) are produced for Climate Stewards, the organizations that are actively reducing their carbon footprint through support of the program, to purchase. Social RECs are REC projects that deliver tangible impact in historically excluded and underserved markets. Through its REC sales, the Louisville solar project provides support for the restoration of the Parkland community, which has suffered from civil rights issues for decades. During the Jim Crow era, Louisville suffered from systems of segregation, which created a pattern of neglect and disinvestment in many communities. This was especially felt in the Parkland community, where many businesses and residents were impacted by violent race riots in 1968.

 

 

Co-benefits

Environmental

+ Residential buildings account for 27.4% of Louisville’s GHG emissions. The Solarize program will assist in Louisville Metro’s goal of installing solar energy on 50% of homes by 2050.

Economic

+ Through bulk purchasing and solar grants for low-to-moderate income residents, Solarize’s rooftop solar installations have the potential to reduce the consumer’s energy bills for the next 20 years.

Social

+ In addition to rooftop installations, Solarize hosts informational and educational workshops co-hosted by Louisville partners. Community members also received services and resources, such as energy efficiency upgrades, roof repair, and other home improvements that they wouldn’t have had access to otherwise. 

 


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Clean Energy, Bright Futures Project

Education and industry partners prepare next generation to lead the clean energy economy

Clean Energy, Bright Futures works with schools and educators to build a clean energy future by encouraging students from all backgrounds to participate in Career Technical Education (CTE) and Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) clubs, internships, or apprenticeship programs. 

Its mission is to transform education for the next decade through local engagement led by educators serving as Clean Energy Fellows in their communities. Sponsors fund the program and collaborate with local STEM/CTE leaders to build curriculum, educator capacity, resources, and connections to real-world projects. The program is funded by corporations, regional utilities, and philanthropic organizations. To date, over 250,000 students have benefitted from the hands-on clean energy learning activities offered by Clean Energy, Bright Futures. Instructors have access to science kits, like a solar panel or wind turbine module set, for example. A number of participating schools installed solar panels, which provide additional renewable energy education opportunities. The mission of the program is to build an informed citizenry, made up of educated energy consumers, problem solvers, and leaders in the clean energy economy.

Co-benefits

Environmental

+ Tackling climate change will require a diverse energy workforce of tech-savvy problem solvers. Clean Energy, Bright Futures engages young adults in the clean energy industry. To succeed in an equitable and clean energy transition, all students — regardless of gender, race, socioeconomic status and geography — need to be set up for success.

Economic

+ The panels installed at Clean Energy, Bright Futures locations nationwide deliver clean power to participating schools. Those wanting to support the program can purchase renewable energy credits generated from the school’s solar array.

Social

+ Clean Energy, Bright Futures offers a sustained impact in traditionally excluded communities by giving access to family wage, wealth-building careers in energy. 

 


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