Reducing carbon emissions
The first port-of-call in a discussion about reducing emissions is to have an understanding of the classification of carbon emissions. They are graded into scopes. Namely, scope 1, scope 2 and scope 3.
Scope 1 emissions are those emissions over which you have direct control in your operation. They include things like emissions from the combustion of ULP or diesel in company owned vehicles, gas consumption (for say the boiler) or the diesel consumption in onsite generators.
Scope 2 emissions are the emissions from the generation of electricity at a coal or gas-fired power stations to be used for onsite operational purposes. Scope 2 emissions can also include purchased steam, heat or coolth, but the generation of electricity is the main scope 2 emission source.
Scope 2 emissions arise when coal or gas is used to create heat as a mode of generation. Renewable energy sources do not rely on the combustion of fossil fuels and have zero carbon emissions in the generation of electricity.
Scope 3 emissions are all the other carbon emissions in the value chain from cradle to grave. These are the emissions of your suppliers (called upstream emissions) and customers (called downstream emissions). It is common for companies embarking on a net zero program to focus on upstream emissions.
Of course, Scope 3 emissions are carbon emissions over which there is no direct control, as opposed to scope1 and 2 emissions where there is direct control. Hence, a priority should be adopted initially to reducing these emissions. Put another way, the aim is to replace carbon intensive processes with less intensive processes.
General carbon reduction category suggestions include:
- Adoption of renewable energy electricity generation options including solar and battery application.
- Conversion from gas use to renewable or green electricity.
- Electric or green hydrogen vehicle upgrade.
- Variable speed drive (VSD) technology on pumps and fans.
- Voltage Power Optimisation and Power Factor Correction technologies
- Cogeneration (or trigeneration) options
- More efficient systems and processes
- Passive cooling or heating design for buildings (often utilizing advanced building management systems).
Whilst there are embedded carbon emissions in the manufacture of renewable energy equipment like wind turbines, solar panels and batteries (and end-of-life product disposal), these emissions are minimal compared to the lifetime carbon savings of their operation.
It is a relatively simple matter to calculate the internal rate of return on renewable energy systems. For a photovoltaic panel system, information is readily available to inform the potential investor of how much sun will shine down on the panels on average per day. The average number of grid-supplied kilo watt hours that are going to be replaced can then be calculated. By applying the kilo watt hour rate of grid supplied electricity, the amount of $ savings per annum is simple maths.
The other matter to consider with renewable energy systems is correct system sizing. For instance, the amount paid per kilo watt hour paid to the owner of a photovoltaic system for energy fed into the grid (often called a feed-in tariff) is mostly much less that the import tariff price. This will affect return on investment as annual revenue as a percentage of cost-of-system falls.
Having said this, when making a renewable energy capital decision, always consider the near future. For instance, electric vehicle prices are tumbling, so a solar/battery system that can charge a delivery van overnight can be assessed on a business case basis with the cost of the fossil fuel it will replace.
The technology development in the renewable energy industry is phenomenal from solar panel efficiency, alternative material based photovoltaic systems (such as roof tiles), battery types, recharge rates and recharge capacity, geothermal systems, wave technology. Our blogs will include latest innovations that could assist our customers reduce their carbon footprint and improve their bottom line.
If your operation precludes the acquisition of an onsite renewable energy system, there is always green power, which is essentially buying electricity that has been renewably generated. In some instances, customers may be able to enter into a direct relationship with the wind or solar farm with a power purchase agreement.
Electric vehicles are quickly becoming mainstream and should be an option to explore now. Every litre of ULP that is combusted and spat out of the tailpipe results in 2.5kgs of carbon emissions. For diesel engines, the carbon emissions are 3kgs per litre.
EV battery recharge rates and distance capability are up, up and up more. Return on investment calculations for EV upgrades should include not only fuel savings, but service charge reductions. EVs have fewer moving parts and even components which remain such as brakes have much less wear due to the braking effect of regeneration as the vehicle slows.
Additionally, EVs will become a supplier/tender expectation for many applications such as inner city delivery vehicles.
For electric vehicles charged with grid-supplied electricity, carbon emissions drop by about 30% compared to internal combustion engines. However, it is a different story if your renewable system has charged the vehicle.
For companies that use electric motors, pumps or large fans (i.e. carpark fans), consideration of VSD technology is a must. VSD is like putting an accelerator pedal on an electric motor. Based on the Affinity Laws, there is often the opportunity to halve power consumption by slowing the speed of the pump or fan by twenty percent.
There are many other technologies out there that can be applied in varying circumstances. Ones applicable to our customers will be reviewed in this blog series.
However, a fundamental of carbon management is the review of systems for their operational efficiency. This could be warehousing systems, delivery systems, material flow systems, office procedures etc etc. It could mean large reductions in energy consumption and waste. This all means reduced costs.
Of course, the other aspect of carbon management is to always remember the customer and any personnel involved in the operation of systems. Make sure the needs of all stakeholders are considered before rushing to adopt funky time-and-motion systems.
Passive cooling and heating is often the elephant in the room. With rising global average temperatures (and in some cases, new minimums with changing meteorological systems), it is far cheaper to design buildings that are good at keeping heat out in summer and keeping it in in winter.
The costs to shove heat out or in goes back to the operation of the HVAC system. The less work it has to do, the better. In this series we will cover passive cooling and heating techniques that can be summarized into six topics: building orientation, insulation, shading, glazing, thermal mass and ventilation. Controlling passive cooling and heating efficiency will often depend on the sophistication of building management systems and their ability to adapt to changing conditions throughout the night or day.
Scope 3 emissions can often represent eighty percent of the total carbon emissions in a value chain, so they are a must to be considered. Of course, there is no direct control over scope 3 emissions, but there could be significant opportunity to influence suppliers with their carbon regimes i.e. go and buy from someone else who is proactive. Conversely, there could be tremendous goodwill attached to encouraging downstream customers to adopt carbon reduction methods with things like product use or end-of-product life sustainable disposal/reuse/recycle.
Our data collection mechanism utilizes input/output technology and global data banks to calculate the scope 3 emissions relevant to our customers’ industries, but if the object is to have a net zero status, there needs to be conversation with key value chain stakeholders. For instance, if your major supplier gains net zero status, that means you don’t have to offset their emissions in your net zero program.
More to come on this subject including the development of a sustainable procurement policy