Our first article of the “A Path to Net-Zero” series discussed the global efforts and commitments towards achieving net-zero carbon emissions. We also introduced the concept of 24/7 Carbon-Free Energy (CFE), which is round-the-clock availability of renewable energy such as solar and wind, and briefly described how hourly energy-matching technologies are within our reach. Building on this momentum, this article will explain how businesses can further their progress towards decarbonisation by embracing hourly energy matching in their energy procurement practices.
Many businesses have started on a journey to decarbonise their operations through purchasing renewable energy, enhancing energy efficiency and offsetting inevitable emissions. A common approach to purchasing renewable energy is through periodic bulk purchase based on consumption or energy certificates to match the bulk consumption volume. However, bulk purchases don’t enable the level of accuracy that an hourly-matching approach can offers to determine whether the renewable energy or energy certificates they purchase are generated when the actual consumption occurs.
For example, if a business is operating in the evening when solar energy is unavailable, it is likely that the energy used is from fossil fuel sources. As a result, there are still periods when businesses have to rely on carbon-based electricity from the grid due to the intermittent supplies of renewable energy, undermining the claim that their operations are decarbonised during these hours. Hourly energy matching offers a new approach which provides greater accuracy, real-time energy generation insights, and improved transparency in energy procurement.
What Is Hourly Energy Matching?
The 24/7 CFE concept emphasises the need for a consistent supply of renewable energy, ensuring its availability every hour, every day, rather than just on an annual basis. This constant renewable energy availability is crucial for meeting our energy needs while significantly reducing carbon emissions. This goal is accomplished through hybrid assets of renewable energy and energy storage, along with advanced management systems to ensure a balance between energy supply and demand.
For businesses, the ability to visualise the impact of their decarbonisation efforts and demonstrate tangible results is central to the concept of hourly energy matching.
This consumer-focused approach utilises a granular phase of renewable energy sourcing. To achieve this, a company’s hourly consumption profile needs to be known and monitored in real-time using an array of smart meters, capturing both periodic and granular consumption data.
Similarly, carbon-free energy suppliers would record and track the energy generated or the related energy certificates as outlined in the purchase agreement. The consumption profile and the energy generation are tracked and matched on an hourly basis to provide transparency and traceability, ensuring that carbon-free energy sources cover its usage to the fullest extent every hour of the day.
How Hourly Energy Matching Works
Instead of simply matching emissions with renewable energy on an annual basis, it is encouraging to see that some businesses are adopting a proactive approach by sourcing carbon-free energy to match their energy consumption hourly.
Industry innovators are developing software and digital management tools to track the generation of renewable energy assets and consumption by providing transparency on a company’s energy consumption and its supply on an hourly basis. By accurately displaying energy sources at any given hour, businesses can make informed, vital sustainability decisions and targeted actions towards their net-zero carbon goals. This provides more accurate energy tracking and greater insights into a company’s journey towards decarbonisation. Moreover, intuitive insights enable businesses to make energy procurement decisions based on verified data and confidently make energy claims while reducing their risk of greenwashing.
An illustration of 24/7 hourly matching: Generation from solar and wind farms will be matched to the customers’ hourly consumption through matching hourly time-stamped generation and consumption on a digital platform, potentially with the help of energy storage.
24/7 Hourly Energy Matching Benefits
Pursuing 24/7 hourly matching offers various benefits that goes beyond conventional energy procurement. By aligning carbon-free energy procurement with time and space considerations, businesses can effectively track their emissions and identify green energy shortfalls. This not only provides a clear and visualised pathway but also offers a granular approach to empower businesses in defining, prioritising, and establishing matching goals for their preferred carbon-free energy sources based on transparent, accurate real-time data.
Embracing 24/7 hourly matching can also help businesses unlock 24/7 carbon accounting and reporting by providing a consistent and predictable energy supply from renewable energy sources. This enables accurate tracking of energy consumption and emissions in real-time, resulting in enhanced precision for carbon accounting and reporting efforts.
As more businesses adopt 24/7 CFE, market demand will generate further renewable energy asset development such as solar, wind, geothermal and hydropower plants. From the perspective of energy providers, they will have more transparency into customers’ load data, enhancing their understanding of customers’ demand. This, in turn, empowers them to proactively respond by optimising production to meet market demands, ultimately leading to decarbonisation of the electricity grid and a more sustainable future.
As reported by PV Magazine, a global solar and storage media leader, tech giant Google has been matching its annual electricity consumption with 100% renewable energy by purchasing Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) since 2017. However, they found there was still heavy reliance on fossil fuels from the grid to power their data centres due to variabilities in renewable sources like solar and wind. Moving to hourly matching gave Google unparalleled transparency, placing them in a better position to look for new technologies to help fill the gaps and meet their 24/7 carbon-free energy goal by 2030.
Discover More About 24/7 Hourly Energy Matching
The 24/7 carbon-free energy market is growing with demand-driven innovation. As more 24/7 hourly matching solutions hit the market, they will stimulate greater investment and actual industry change, shaping the future of corporate energy procurement and accelerate the transition towards decarbonisation. Through the implementation of 24/7 hourly matching, businesses can gain a better understanding of their progress in achieving decarbonisation and to validate their sustainability claims.
The next article in our series will turn towards how businesses could benefit from a 24/7 Carbon-Free Energy strategy. Meanwhile, if you would like to learn more about the technology of 24/7 hourly matching, our team is here to assist you. Feel free to contact us for more information.