Emissionality helps differentiate between good and great renewable energy projects
What is Emissionality? It’s the carbon impact of a renewable energy project, looking at the emissions it has replaced in the grid, or “turned off”.
Emissionality is about taking into account not just the Zero emission electricity produced by a project, but also its avoided emissions.
For example, a project displacing energy from a natural gas plant is good. A project displacing energy from a diesel generator is even better – because it drives down more CO2 emissions, and this is what drives the real climate impact.
Emissionality is a critical factor because, at the end of the day, driving down actual physical emissions of Greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is the ultimate purpose of the energy transition.
At the end of the day, driving down actual physical emissions of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is the ultimate purpose of the energy transition.
The single biggest influence on renewables’ emissionality comes down to location. Where is this project being built? What energy system is it displacing?
Some renewable energy projects have a larger impact depending on where they are built – for example, in India or Africa, in zones where power is generated through burning diesel or even coal.
Powertrust: Emissionality & Equity
- Distributed renewable energy systems are nearly peerless when it comes to avoided emissions. In developing markets, electricity often comes from diesel generators. This means that, per kWh, distributed renewable energy projects can displace up to seven times more carbon emissions than identical projects on the US grid.
- Source: ifc.org
Per kWh, distributed renewable energy projects in emerging markets can displace up to seven times more carbon emissions than identical projects on the US grid.
Powertrust sources projects that have the highest climate and social impact. What does this mean?
- Some renewable energy projects displace more fossil fuels than others and others provide crucial support for their local community.
- We source projects which are displacing dirty fuels.
- We source projects in the Global South, where the social impacts are highest.
- We electrify schools, hospitals, health care centres and rural communities which have not had stable access to electricity.
In 2020, Salesforce became the first corporate entity to publicly commit to evaluating avoided emissions as part of their renewable energy procurement decisions. They consider more than just megawatt hours in their renewable energy purchases. We are delighted to be partnering with them on projects throughout Brazil, India, Sub-saharan Africa and SouthEast Asia.