Net Zero: How to Move Intentions into Action

As more businesses chart a course towards net zero emissions, we look at some of the steps to actually get there.


Almost a third of Australia’s 300 largest listed companies have now committed to net zero carbon emissions. The rate of business-led net zero commitments has also accelerated in the light of the alarming report delivered by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).


Pledging to net zero emissions is an encouraging step, following up with an action plan is the hard part. We look at five key elements of implementing net zero plans to help businesses take the next steps.


Measure


Achieving net zero emissions by the intended target date starts by understanding your business’ current carbon footprint. This means measuring your energy and emissions data across all sites and energy suppliers.
There is a difference though between energy intensity and emissions intensity. For example, a building may have low energy intensity as measured by the NABERS energy intensity framework and benchmarking tool. However, if the same building is heavily reliant on coal-fired energy sources, it will not have low emissions intensity.


Reduce


As Dr Alan Finkel noted in the July edition of Quarterly Essay that 82% of Australia’s emissions in 2020 are related to fossil fuel combustion. This included electricity (34%), stationary energy (20%), transport (18%) and fugitive emissions in fossil fuel extraction and transport (10%). Businesses must thus examine energy usage, including when and where it is being used. Simple changes like motion-sensing lighting and opting for cost-effective, energy-saving equipment can reduce both emissions and running costs.


Renewable energy


Replacing energy generated by fossil fuels with renewable energy should be a cornerstone of businesses’ net zero plans. Our clients have recently discussed how current low pricing large-scale generation certificates can help them to reach their net zero energy targets ahead of schedule.


Renewable energy options include onsite solar. Because these don’t have standard network supply charges, again, they can reduce both emissions and running costs. Through our Solar Auctions, businesses can have reputable suppliers bid competitively for their required system spec delivering further cost efficiencies.


Procurement


Innovative low emissions procurements options are emerging. For example, we have launched Green Auctions, a cost-effective way for businesses to secure a renewable-backed energy supply agreement (RESA) and speed up their transition to net zero. Businesses can now leverage a standard energy supply agreement to access 50% to 100% firm priced renewable supply.


Some of our clients say that the type of energy they purchase and their upgrades to property and equipment are also opportunities to drive change through their investments and to signal to the energy market that emissions reduction is the intent.


Offsets


Many businesses may have some residual emissions that are either very difficult to eliminate or outside of their control. This is where carbon offsets may help. These involve buying offsets from companies planting trees to absorb carbon or installing renewable energy, for example.


However, the price of carbon offsets remains low due to supply outpacing demand in previous years. This, it is argued, can make offsets more appealing than other more impactful pathways to deeper emissions reduction.
While carbon offsets can also help channel money into new technology, it is important to scrutinise their credentials. For example, would these projects have been financed without an offsets market and therefore do not offer additional environmental benefits?


Stakeholder engagement


Energy Action’s net zero plan also captures waste, paper usage, business travel and catering. Eventually, it will extend to events and conferences and our employees’ commute to work. But to ensure that energy initiatives are ongoing, stakeholder engagement and strong governance are imperatives.


Energy management policies that guide procurement teams through minimum performance or emissions reductions standards are emerging as one way to achieve organisational alignment. If you are considering how to formulate and implement these policies, we encourage you to attend our energy management webinar on 7th October.

Australia's Journey Towards Net Zero Emissions:

Piloting a New Renewable Gas Certification Scheme

The transition of the Australian and global economies towards net zero emissions is underway. This is driven by Government policy initiatives coupled with private sector and investor responses and changing consumer expectations.

Natural gas is an important fuel for heat production, particularly in applications where high temperatures are required. Approximately 25 per cent of Australia's stationary energy consumption is natural gas. In addition, there are even more significant levels of liquified natural gas exports.

While the emissions intensity of combusting natural gas is about half that of burning coal, emissions associated with natural gas extraction for onshore combustion and export accounted for 30% of Australian emissions in 2020.

 Therefore, it is unsurprising that Australia's transition to a net zero economy will require a significant focus on addressing natural gas emissions.

Several approaches to addressing these emissions are currently attracting a lot of attention for their potential to provide an alternative to natural gas at scale

One such approach is using renewable gas, such as biogas, instead of methane or natural gas.  Biogas is derived from the breakdown of organic material such as wastewater, agricultural waste, food waste and industrial waste. From there, it is converted to biomethane and used as a carbon-neutral substitute for methane.  

Research by the International Energy Agency found the world's biogas and biomethane resources could meet 20 per cent of global gas demand while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The use of biogas also has added benefits by addressing waste-related issues and developing a more circular economy.

The pilot scheme

The New South Wales Government managed GreenPower and Jemena and Energy Network Australia (ENA) piloting a renewable gas certification scheme.

The pilot will commence in 2022 and enable a small number of New South Wales gas household customers to have access to verified and accredited renewable gas. 

A successful pilot should assist in enabling further investment in new sources of renewable or green gas.  It will also allow consumers to achieve emissions reductions where they can not readily switch to renewable electricity.

The scheme is expected to operate similarly to the existing GreenPower accredited electricity scheme where customers can voluntarily purchase part or all of their electricity consumption from renewable sources. 

The certification of renewable gas would similarly be voluntary and administered by GreenPower.

The first renewable gas production source to be used in the pilot scheme is the Sydney Water owned Malabar biomethane injection project. This uses wastewater to produce biomethane to be injected into the local gas distribution network. The facility is expected to supply up to 6,300 households with carbon-neutral gas.

The pilot is expected to run for two years and will inform a process to develop a permanent scheme.

Conclusion

The need to decarbonise Australia's natural gas sector is clear, there are, however, several approaches to achieve this outcome, and a combination of approaches will likely be required.

A successful renewable gas certification scheme will help support a sustainable renewable gas industry and reduce emissions.

If you have any questions or need advice on your journey to net zero or the availability and opportunities of renewable gas for your business, don't hesitate to get in touch with your Energy Action account manager or contact us on 1300 964 589.

Green Auctions: The New Way Towards Net Zero


"Green Auctions: The New Way Towards Net Zero", was a free webinar held on the 26th May 2021. In case you missed it, we've got a replay just for you.

We've identified a gap in the market when it comes to powering your business on 100% renewable energy. That's why we've introduced Green Auctions. Green Auctions are a simpler, cleaner and lower cost way for your business to achieve Net Zero. In "Green Auctions: The New Way Towards Net Zero", you'll find out what a Green Auction is and learn how it compares to other types of renewable energy contracts. These include Green Power and Corporate Power Purchase Agreements to name a few. Let our experts, John Huggart and Julie Do, guide you through the wonders of our newest innovation.

Below are some useful resources mentioned in this webinar:

Register your business for a Green Auction today

Green Auctions are here and they are the new way towards net zero. If you would like fast track your journey towards net zero by registering your business for a Green Auction, simply click above and one of our Energy Experts will be in touch.

Read the draft of the Aus CERT, available now via the Clean Energy Regulator website

Read the Aus CERT Draft

As mentioned during the webinar, you can download a copy of the draft of the Australian Corporate Emissions Reduction Transparency (CERT) report via the Clean Energy Regulator website or by clicking above.

Check out our Energy Action Price Index (EAPI) for exclusive insights on the pricing of the energy market

Check out our Energy Action Price Index

Energy Action’s Price Index (EAPI) provides clarity to the market encompassing pricing from energy retailers via the Australian Energy Exchange (AEX). You can find out more, click the link above.

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