Emissions Reduction

Helping local businesses achieve net zero

Australia’s Green Energy Group is committed to assisting organisations achieve their decarbonisation and sustainability goals, writes Emily Skehill.

Australian businesses are taking great interest in decarbonisation opportunities, with increasingly ambitious commitments across sustainability, energy transformation, and environmental, social and governance (ESC). “Beyond our sustainability community, it is sometimes hard to gauge the business world’s commitment to meeting climate challenges,” says Green Energy Group CEO Luke Konynenburg.

“At the recent Australian Institute of Company Directors’ Climate Governance Forum, there were 1000 directors in the room. I was blown away by how laser-focused they were on driving environmental and sustainability outcomes for their organisations.”

Decarbonisation is a race to adapt. Some businesses will pick up pace after receiving a shocking energy bill, or experiencing tough energy or fuel contract negotiations. Others will be challenged by leadership, major tender scope requirements, board commitments and competitors to account for carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions. Setting benchmarks Whatever the motivation to adapt to decarbonisation, the first step should be an energy audit to set a baseline.

“For so long, energy was cheap and didn’t significantly impact business decisions,” Green Energy & Carbon Management (GECM) CEO Caroline Bennett said.

“With increasing energy prices and decarbonisation goals becoming a requirement, the best place to start is to work out your business energy consumption and onsite opportunities so you can build a clear and actionable plan.”

The team at GECM is passionate about measuring and managing energy, and helping businesses to reduce costs,
improve productivity and achieve emissions reduction targets. With a clear picture of energy consumption from a baseline benchmark audit, digitisation of energy management becomes a pillar of most strategic plans.

The GECM Productivity Suite digitises onsite energy consumption and reveals details needed to plan and prioritise transformative investment opportunities and adopt demand response strategies.

A roadmap for action: switch, shift and store A tailor-made roadmap – designed with GECM’s Energy Efficiency Council-certified energy management systems (EnMS) advisors – puts business goals at the centre of a company’s energy transformation.

It comprises three components: Switch: With gas prices soaring, the stage is set for the electrification of homes and businesses across Australia. While switching to renewables is an obvious option, many households and businesses can reduce energy quickly by focusing on draught-proofing and insulating their building, and then electrifying gas heating appliances.

“It is urgent we start putting more effort into identifying and implementing opportunities in homes and businesses to reduce our need for energy from far afield,” Tristan Edis, director – analysis and advisory, Green Energy Markets said.

Easy switches include upgrading to heat pump or solar hot water, and reverse cycle air-conditioning. These upgrades can be done by local qualified installers, making them accessible options for people wanting to reduce energy bills.

Many of these upgrades attract government incentive cashbacks through Green Energy Trading and the National Carbon Bank of Australia, allowing installers to offer upfront discounts to customers for gas unit replacements and electric unit upgrades.

For businesses with a more complex net-zero roadmap, the NSW and Victorian energy efficiency schemes offer measurement and verification methods, which allow engineering projects to create energy efficiency certificates for validated emissions reductions or energy savings. Shift: With summer approaching and the shift in weather patterns from La Nina to El Nino, concerns about grid resilience and reliability during heatwaves means strategies targeting peak demand reduction are important.

Green Energy Markets director Ric Brazzale is pleased the National Carbon Bank of Australia created the first Peak Reduction Certificates (PRCs) in November 2022.

“We’ve been lobbying for a long time, as part of the Energy Savings Industry Association, for a scheme to support
reduction in peak demand,” he said.

“A new reverse-cycle air-conditioning unit uses half the energy of many of the older standard units currently in homes and businesses in NSW.”

Customers have smarter appliances and supporting apps to enable them to become flexible consumers, including small shifts such as timing an electric water heating cycle to match rooftop solar generation, or opting for climate responsive air-conditioning controls.

With the right tools and new strategies, customers can become smart energy managers. Store: Smart energy management empowers businesses and households to capture the value in managing temperatures, timing and storing cheap renewable energy when it is abundant to use at a later stage when demand is high.

There is a range of chemical battery options on the market that can do this job, and increased adoption of electric vehicles adds more solar storage into the system. Water heaters are also a smart energy management system. They can be thought of as water batteries, soaking up onsite solar electricity and converting it to heat for discharging as a hot shower.

Air-conditioning and refrigeration can also be varied in a similar way for pre-cooling or chilling during peak solar generation. Carbon offsets When switch, shift and store options in your roadmap have been implemented, there will still be lingering carbon emissions to account for to get to net zero.

Businesses can address this by buying government-managed 100 per cent renewable GreenPower and carbon offsets. Green Energy Exchange/ACXargyle is the largest independent provider of GreenPower and verifiable carbon offsets, giving choice and confidence to businesses that are limited in options to directly tackle energy efficiency and carbon emissions.

GEG Cycle
The five companies comprising the Green Energy Group.

The Green Energy Group is accelerating decarbonisation and creating pathways to transform the future. As a group of five companies – Green Energy & Carbon Management, Green Energy Trading, National Carbon Bank of Australia, Green Energy Markets and Green Energy Exchange – it has the breadth and depth to serve Australia’s growing electrification, decarbonisation and transition needs.

This article featured in the October edition of Ecogeneration.

For more information about navigating the journey to net zero, visit Green Energy Group.

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