Generic Carbon Emissions Question 5

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Question

EN: Is at least XX% of the electricity used by the brand (company) generated from renewable resources, such as wind or solar energy?
NL: Is tenminste XX% van het elektriciteitverbruik van het merk (bedrijf) afkomstig van duurzame bronnen, zoals wind en zonne-energie?
DE: Stammen mindestens XX% des kompletten Elektrizitätsverbrauchs des Markenherstellers aus erneuerbaren Quellen?

Reference

This question relates to disclosure GRI 302 of the Global Reporting Initiative’s reporting standards.

Renewable energy or 'green energy' emits fewer GHG emissions relative to other sources of energy that supply the electric grid. Examples are solar photovoltaic panels, solar thermal energy, geothermal energy, landfill gas, low-impact hydropower, and wind turbines. This description is found on page 98 and chapter 4 of the Greenhouse Gas Protocol.

Renewable energy is energy which comes from natural resources such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, and geothermal heat, which are renewable (naturally replenished), see also the Greenhouse Gas Protocol. Renewable energy or 'green energy' emits fewer GHG emissions relative to other sources of energy that supply the electric grid.

Companies use electricity for their own operations. This question aims to stimulate companies to use green electricity. We ask companies to:
- (partly) generate renewable energy e.g. by solar panels or wind mills and use this for own consumption (so does not sell their green certificates to the market), and/or;
- directly purchase green energy (through power purchase agreements)
- refer to green energy percentage of the electricity product as purchased from the power supplier (so NOT the grid average)

AND NOT only:
- refer to average green energy percentages in the grid without any furthers statement if or why this percentage can be attributed to the brand (company) electricity use. For example, the green electricity portion in the grid average could have been sold through certificates to other parties, and should therefore not be attributed twice.
- mention to use green energy without providing any further details, or information about the type of resource.

Additionality required, sources should be revealed
A serious issue in green energy is the additionality of certificates. In the Netherlands and probably other countries as well (see Cool IT report p. 27 about 'Renewable energy credits'), there is a clear issue about additionality when buying green energy certificates or credits. Although Greenpeace states that electricity generated from hydropower stations built in the 60s in Scandinavia is more sustainable than electricity generated from gas or coal (see Telecom Climate Change Question 5) it is often questionable if green certificates do really contribute to the development of green energy. For example, companies can buy and sell cheap Scandinavian hydroelectricity generated with dams that were built in the 60's. As those certificates are still abundant, there is no additionality to business-as-usual, and certainly no reduction of carbon emissions or incentive to further invest in renewable energy. Therefore, this is a point of attention, and we require companies at least to be transparent about the source of the green energy certificates and credits.

For a list of Dutch energy companies that use energy from renewable resources that are proven to be additional, see the Dutch report Duurzaamheid Nederlandse Elektriciteitssector by Greenpeace and SOMO.

Technically almost all energy derived from green certificates that are not additional come from Scandinavia (92%). In the Netherlands there is a shortage in renewable energy generated in the Netherlands, which naturally means that renewable electricity generated in the Netherlands has to be derived from newly built solar panels, wind turbines or hydropower stations, which means that renewable electricity generated in the Netherlands has a 99,5% chance to be additional.

A good example for this question is KPN that has procured only green electricity that is generated virtually entirely in the Netherlands, see [1].

Nuclear energy not green
Opposed to what nuclear energy suppliers might claim, nuclear energy is not green or clean. Although direct carbon emissions are zero, the indirect carbon emissions from mining and building a nuclear plant are huge. Nuclear energy is not renewable, and nuclear waste is persistent. Furthermore, nuclear plants are dangerous: remember Tsjernobil and Fukushima disasters.

Answering Guidelines

‘Yes’:

  • [Brand] reports for [year] to have used [??]% renewable energy on total electricity consumption. This was purchased [e.g. where, what certificates, what type of renewable energy?]/ this was generated by own [windmills/solar panels etc..].
  • [Brand] uses renewable energy for its electricity consumption in its own premises only. This energy is purchased [e.g. where, what certificates, what type of renewable energy?]/ this was generated by own [windmills/solar panels etc..].

?:

  • [Brand] does not communicate its renewable energy policy.
  • [Brand] does not clearly communicate its renewable energy policy. Sustainability information should be easily accessible for consumers to make responsible choices.
  • [Brand] refers to the grid average of ??% renewable energy, but does account for the reason why this portion can be attributed to the brand.
  • [Brand] reports for [year] to have used [??]% renewable energy on total electricity consumption, but is not clear about the sources of supply.
  • [Brand] reports for [year] to have used [??]% renewable energy on total electricity consumption. But, sources, types and additionality of supply are not specified clearly enough.
  • [Brand] mentions to use renewable energy, but does not make clear from what kind of resource, or does not give any details.
  • [Brand] mentions the use of onsite generated renewable energy, but is not clear about the total percentage share.
  • [Brand] reports on the use of renewable energy, but is neither clear about the total percentage share nor about the sources of supply.
  • [Brand] reports on the use of renewable energy, but is not clear about the total percentage share, kind of resource and additionality of supply.
  • [Brand] reports on the use of renewable energy, but is not clear enough about the overall share of renewable energy consumption, as well as sources, types and additionality of renewable energy supply.

No:

  • [Brand] explicitly states not to ... .
  • [Brand] reports for [year] to have used only [??]% renewable energy on total electricity consumption. This was purchased [e.g. where, what certificates, what type of renewable energy?]/ this was generated by own [windmills/solar panels etc..].


-* You can pick the topic that applies to 'your' brand.

Note: when linking to a downloadable source document, please refer to the page(s) where to find the respective information with: (see link, page [..]).

Optional, but only for ? Answers, feel free to write at the end of a remark: Sustainability information should be easily accessible for consumers to make responsible choices.

Further resources

  • Umweltbundesamt - Herkunftsregister 1 2
  • TÜV NORD - Criteria 1
  • TÜV SÜD - Criteria 1
  • ok-power - Criteria 1
  • GrünerStromLabel - Criteria 1
  • Öko-Institut - “Additional” renewable energies 1