Author: 3Degrees Staff

At 3Degrees, we make it possible for businesses and their customers to take urgent action on climate change— providing renewable energy and carbon offset solutions to Fortune 500 companies, utilities, universities, green building firms and other organizations that are working to make their operations more sustainable. And as a certified B Corporation and eight-time winner of the EPA Green Power Supplier of the Year award, we’re primed to deliver custom clean power solutions that will help each organization make an environmental impact. Founded in 2007, 3Degrees is headquartered in San Francisco, California, with offices across the United States.

Okta is Addressing its North American Electricity Emissions While Supporting Local Schools

For Okta, an innovative San Francisco-based identity company, addressing its impact on the climate is a foundational component to one of its three Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance (ESG) pillars. While the company understood the need to confront its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, Okta was at the very beginning of its decarbonization journey and, like many other organizations starting out, wanted to make an impactful first step. In August of 2020, Okta completed its first GHG emissions assessment which allowed it to measure its emissions, establish baselines, and begin to define renewable energy and carbon reduction goals.

With this information, Okta approached 3Degrees to help develop a plan to procure renewable energy to address its energy consumption, while also having a positive effect on its local community.

The Opportunity

Over the past 15 years, 3Degrees has supported The California Bright Schools Program with the procurement of more than 173,000 MWhs of solar RECs from school districts throughout California. Taking into account its desire for community impact, purchasing RECs from California schools proved to be a perfect fit for Okta. 

The Bright Schools Program was born out of a vision for school districts to proliferate solar energy adoption and save general fund dollars, while providing clean energy education for students and teachers. This program, implemented through the California Energy Commission, helps identify the most cost-effective energy saving opportunities and supports the installation of photovoltaic solar systems on schools across the state.

The Milpitas Unified School District, just southeast of San Francisco, is a great example of how schools are benefiting from solar development. By hosting a PV solar system, the school district reduces its energy costs and generates revenue through the sale of renewable energy certificates (RECs) generated by the system. 3Degrees has been purchasing RECs from the school district since 2009.

How we helped

Working closely with Okta, 3Degrees assessed the company’s purchase criteria and developed a portfolio of renewable energy options that would meet its energy requirements and desire for local co-benefits. Through the purchase of RECs generated from the Bright Schools Program’s solar network, Okta was able to demonstrate its commitment to the environment and the community in which it operates. The purchase helped Okta meet its renewable energy goal for 2020, while also making a positive impact on a neighboring school district.

“Every organization should be taking action on climate change, as it adversely affects our people and planet. At Okta, we’re early in our journey, but we’re committed to doing our part and reducing our Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions. We’re implementing energy efficiency efforts to reduce consumption at our offices — and for energy we consume, we’re investing in renewable energy projects with positive environmental and social impacts. We value our partnership with 3Degrees and their expertise in this area.”

— Alison Colwell, Director of ESG and Sustainability, Okta

 

Results

Okta’s initial purchase was large enough to address its entire Scope 2 emissions footprint in the United States. By supporting the Bright Schools Program, Okta was able to create a meaningful connection for its employee stakeholders and highlight the tangible benefits of its investment to the community in which they live.

As a participant in the Bright Schools Program, the Milpitas Unified School District is estimated to save $12 million over the portfolio’s lifespan. It is through corporate REC purchases, like that of Okta’s, that these types of educational co-benefits are possible. 

Okta’s purchase is a strong example of how organizations can go beyond “checking the box” with their renewable energy investments, demonstrating that even a first step can also be meaningful to stakeholders and impactful to the community. Acknowledging that this is just the beginning of its journey, Okta is already looking ahead at options to address its international Scope 2 emissions, as well as ways to address its indirect Scope 3 emissions.

ALDI enhances sustainability leadership with multi-year renewable energy purchase

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Protecting the environment has been a priority for ALDI for many years. In 2014, the company began implementation of its first international climate strategy, which included the goal of reducing its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 30% per square meter of sales area by 2020.

In 2021, ALDI South, which includes ALDI U.S., went a step further and announced it would join the Science Based Target Initiative (SBTi), committing to reduce its overall operational emissions by more than a quarter by 2025 as part of the company’s 2030 vision for sustainability. Additionally, ALDI has encouraged 75% of its suppliers to commit to science-based targets by 2024.

ALDI U.S. continues to implement initiatives in support of these goals, including integrating solar design for stores and warehouses where feasible, and procuring 100% renewable energy for all of its operations. ALDI achieves this through a portfolio approach using onsite solar generation, competitive retail supply contracts, and independently sourced unbundled renewable energy certificates (RECs). ALDI enlisted 3Degrees to help evaluate its short- and long-term goals, inform the company’s procurement strategy, and execute its first purchase of renewable energy.

Challenges

ALDI outlined several criteria to ensure its renewable energy purchasing strategy was a good fit with its business model. To this end, 3Degrees’ recommended approach needed to:

  • Support the company’s aggressive U.S. growth plan
  • Fit within its existing energy procurement strategy
  • Mitigate potential REC market volatility, while providing flexibility to handle the company’s projected growth and any future changes to how it procures renewable energy
  • Provide meaningful impact

Additionally, since this would be its first large-scale renewable energy purchase in the United States, the ALDI team was looking for support educating national and international stakeholders on renewable energy certificates (RECs), their role in a renewable energy purchasing strategy, and the challenges unique to purchasing renewable energy in the U.S.

How we helped

3Degrees took the company’s needs into careful consideration and created a tailored plan to deliver on the ALDI goals of meeting 100% renewable energy for all of its U.S. operations while mitigating risk and providing some long-term price certainty.

We began by engaging ALDI, educating key stakeholders, and completing a renewable energy options assessment which outlined the various paths that the company could take to achieve its goals. As a result, ALDI elected to move forward with a multi-year REC purchase that would serve as the anchor point for its most immediate renewable energy needs in the U.S. but still provide flexibility to explore options beyond unbundled RECs over time. Our work with the ALDI team also supported the business case for a longer-term renewable energy procurement strategy that balances impact and economics while allowing the company to drive rapid adoption of renewable energy within its operating footprint.

“ALDI has been investing in programs to protect the environment for many years now, and our commitment to our climate strategy is a significant corporate priority. We are thrilled to partner with 3Degrees on this unique, multi-year REC purchase, which will play an important role in helping us achieve our renewable energy goals.”

— Dan Gavin, Senior VP of National Real Estate, ALDI

Results

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Through its long-term REC procurement, ALDI:

  • Is addressing 100% of its U.S. electricity load with renewable energy at a favorable fixed price in the short term
  • Sets the stage for its renewable energy procurement strategy to play a pivotal role in achieving the company’s ambitious science-based target GHG goal
  • Demonstrates the role RECs can play in enabling a realistic, business-conscious approach to GHG reduction
  • Is able to make a meaningful impact in the national renewable portfolio through its investment

Carbon Credits’ Role in Achieving Net Zero, Carbon Neutrality, and SBTi Targets

The Evolution of Corporate Climate Commitments

Organizations around the world are increasingly focused on setting and achieving ambitious GHG reduction targets including net zero emissions, carbon neutrality, and science-based. However, with evolving methodologies and tools, understanding available options and developing a strategy for achieving these targets can be challenging.

This white paper, “The Evolution of Corporate Climate Commitments: The Role of Carbon Credits in Achieving Net Zero, Carbon Neutrality and SBTi Targets,” discusses:

  • A detailed summary of the most common GHG reduction targets – carbon neutrality, science-based, and net zero emissions
  • How these targets can work in concert to help achieve meaningful and long-term emissions reductions
  • The spectrum of strategies and tools that can map to the various targets
  • The role that carbon credits, including nature-based solutions, carbon removals, and value chain interventions play in meeting these commitments

Explore this white paper to learn how your organization can develop its own strategy for significant and impactful decarbonization.

 

 

Nuru Solar Energy Project

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Solar grid in DRC generates first-ever Peace Renewable Energy Credits (P-RECS)

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. The effects of climate change are global, and fragile states, which have contributed least, should not have to bear these burdens alone.

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.

In February 2020, the first sale of P-RECS delivered new funding in Goma, a region in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. These P-RECs were issued from a 1.3MW solar mini-grid constructed by Congolese solar developer Nuru. Revenue from this transaction was used to finance the installation of 35 streetlights along the mini-grid.

SOLAR ARRAY IN GOMA

The DRC has one of the lowest rates of electrification and energy consumption in the world. Congolese citizens do not have an interconnected national grid. Hydropower is the country’s primary source of electricity, but it meets only one-third of the 3GW in unmet and growing demand. This project is one of Africa’s largest off-grid solar mini-grids.

The solar project is expected to serve over 750 households and small to medium-sized businesses. The sale of the first 1,000 P-RECs funded the first of three phases of street light installations.

Developer Nuru has used 100% of P-REC revenue to install public street lights in Goma’s Ndosho neighborhood. Prior to installation, the community identified the lack of streetlights as one of its top priorities.

As of March 20, 2020 an estimated 28,000 people – more than a third of Ndosho population – are seeing tangible improvements from the first stage of this project. With the continued sale of P-RECs, the second and third stage are planned to extend street lights across the entire neighborhood.

Co-benefits

Environmental

+ The solar array and connected street lights in Ndosho have reduced the need for carbon intensive diesel generators; this has a direct climate mitigation impact by reducing local air pollution and decreasing carbon emissions.

Economic

+ P-REC revenue provides the capital necessary to unlock project funding.
+ The street lights support the operation of night markets and enable businesses to stay open later, both of which have strong, positive impacts on the local community and economy.
+ The construction and maintenance of the solar array, batteries, and street lights have created, and will sustain, quality local jobs.

Health & Safety

+ More reliable access to electricity and reduced reliance on diesel generators will have a positive impact on human health in Goma.
+ Improving community lighting at night increases safety and security in densely populated areas where crime incidents have previously caused insecurity for residents and businesses.

Photos courtesy of Nuru

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View other project profiles or contact us.

VERGE 2020 Studio Interview: Corporate Benefits of the Low Carbon Fuel Standard

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In this video from VERGE 2020, Dave Meyer, 3Degrees’ Director of LCFS Programs, speaks with Katie Fehrenbacher, Sr. Transportation Writer at GreenBiz, about California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard and how 3Degrees is helping organizations take advantage of this program to reduce their transportation footprint and subsidize further transportation decarbonization.

watch the interview

GOs and I-RECs: Tools for Addressing Global Scope 2 Emissions

GOs and I-RECs

As your organization works to reduce its international energy footprint (Scope 2 emissions) to meet corporate renewable energy goals, you need all the data and resources necessary to move the needle and fast.

Our I-RECs and GOs infographic illustrates the similarities and differences of these instruments and provides the quick resource you need to take action to address your organization’s environmental impact.

Want more information? Take a look at our RECs and Global Equivalents page, or Contact us.

 

First-ever Peace REC
(P-REC) transaction drives renewable energy development in Africa

 

Nuru Solar Project photos

Overview

  • Microsoft purchased P-RECs issued by Energy Peace Partners from Congolese solar developer Nuru’s newly commissioned 1.3MW commercial solar-plus-storage project in Goma, DRC.
  • The P-REC purchase helped Nuru fund the recently completed construction of 35 mini-grid-connected streetlights in the Ndosho neighborhood of Goma.
  • The streetlights: Improve quality of life with better nighttime visibility and road safety, and enhance neighborhood security; Support the local economy by allowing businesses to stay open at night; Improve air quality by reducing reliance on diesel generators, which are both expensive and highly polluting.
  • This transaction unlocks a new renewable energy attribute option that other organizations can now leverage to drive renewable projects in underserved communities around the globe.

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Background

Microsoft has long been a leader in corporate sustainability. As part of its commitment to be carbon negative by 2030, Microsoft has pledged to have its operations run with 100% renewable electricity by 2025. The company has developed business models that further the transition to renewable energy, and it seeks opportunities to invest in high impact renewable energy products and stimulate development in under-resourced communities and regions of the world.

3Degrees had been in discussions with Energy Peace Partners (EPP) since 2017, exploring ways in which the two organizations could work together to help operationalize a new and innovative instrument developed by EPP, Peace Renewable Energy Credits (P-RECs).

So when Microsoft issued an RFP specifically geared to driving the adoption of renewables and maximizing associated environmental impacts, 3Degrees included P-RECs in the RFP response. The inaugural corporate purchase of P-RECs tests a new business model for the deployment of renewables in new geographies.

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Creating a New Instrument for Renewable Energy Sourcing

In making this first-of-its-kind transaction a reality, there were some unique challenges that needed to be addressed.

  • Because P-RECs are an entirely new instrument, there was little guidance on how they would fit into existing corporate sustainability reporting frameworks, including CDP and RE100.
  • The P-REC pilot project is a 1.3 MW ground-mounted solar installation connected to a 520 kW/2.2 MWh battery energy storage system that introduces new electrification to the neighborhood of Ndosho in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) where no electrical grid infrastructure has previously existed. Like many developing nations in sub-Saharan Africa, DRC lacks widespread electrical interconnection, and this plant is not interconnected to other grids beyond Ndosho.

“With P-RECs, companies like Microsoft that are looking to procure renewable energy can invest in regions that are the most impacted by climate change and that are currently deprived of access to modern energy. Companies can maximize the impact of their investments not only from a carbon reduction perspective, but also from a climate equity perspective.”

– Vanessa Miler, Director, Energy Innovation and Impact, Microsoft

Photo courtesy of Nuru

How We Helped

3Degrees, Energy Peace Partners, and project developer Nuru worked collaboratively to create the framework for scalable and accountable corporate sourcing. 3Degrees was key to this success by:

  • Developing contractual mechanisms to implement project milestones to mitigate risks that could arise from unexpected issues related to construction of the solar plant and installation of the streetlights. This provided all parties with enough assurances to move forward and make this first-of-its-kind transaction a reality.
  • Seeking guidance from leading renewable energy and GHG reporting initiatives to understand how these platforms could accommodate this new and unique instrument.
  • Continuing to advocate for standardized guidance on how to report EACs that differ from standard renewable energy usage claims but do directly support market development in regions with limited electrical grid interconnection and renewable energy procurement options. The development of P-RECs has encouraged RE100 to consider P-RECs in the context of flexibility mechanisms for regions like sub-Saharan Africa, although no new guidance has yet been issued.

“We developed the P-REC in order to support new renewable energy projects in fragile, energy poor regions of the world. With this inaugural P-REC purchase, Microsoft is demonstrating that corporate renewable energy procurement can be high impact by making a difference in communities like Ndosho, where increased access to sustainable and affordable power will be transformative. Energy Peace Partners is proud of this groundbreaking collaboration with Microsoft, 3Degrees, and Nuru.”

– David Mozersky, President, Energy Peace Partners


P-REC Project profile

The Nuru solar energy project

Photo courtesy of Nuru

The P-RECs for Microsoft’s transaction will be issued by Energy Peace Partners (EPP) and associated with Congolese solar developer Nuru’s newly commissioned 1.3MW commercial solar-plus-storage plant in Goma, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, where less than 3% of residents have access to electricity. The system is one of sub-Saharan Africa’s largest solar-plus-storage off-grid mini-grids currently in operation and will provide power to more than 700 households and anchor enterprise clients.

Microsoft’s P-REC purchase assisted Nuru (which means light in Swahili) to fund the construction of mini-grid-connected streetlights in the Ndosho neighborhood of Goma, a community impact project co-designed with local stakeholders. The streetlights are improving night time safety and security in the community, allowing businesses to stay open at night, reducing reliance on diesel generators, and expanding renewable energy capacity in an area that has never had grid infrastructure.

Read more: Nuru Solar Energy Project Profile

Darigold invests in long-term sustainable agriculture (video)

Darigold Carbon Offset Project

Darigold and the Northwest Dairy Association (NDA), have led the industry in environmental stewardship for years. In 2018, Darigold won the Community Impact Award for Sustainability from the Seattle Business Magazine. To build on this progress, Royal Dairy (a member of NDA) invested in a BioFiltro vermicomposting system which prevents the release of 34,000 tons of CO2-equivalent from their farm’s manure management lagoon.

Watch this video learn more about this innovative carbon reduction technology.

WATCH THE VIDEO