Carbon Neutral simply means achieving net zero carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by either removing, eliminating or offsetting emissions altogether.
What are carbon emissions and how do they contribute to climate change?
Greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) - often referred to as "carbon emissions" - are a form of air pollution. GHGs change the earth’s climate by trapping heat. It's important to note that GHGs are not all bad, we need GHGs to maintain a liveable atmosphere and to make Earth warmer than it would otherwise be.
But as humans put more GHGs into the atmosphere, the planet’s atmospheric insulation changes from a nice, breathable summer quilt to a dangerous layer of bubble wrap that changes living conditions for virtually everything on Earth.
Why is Carbon dioxide (CO2) always the measure?
CO2 remains in the climate system for a very long time: atmospheric concentrations of CO2 will last thousands of years. CO2 is also the most abundant GHG, and is therefore always utilised at the reference gas.
There are six main greenhouse gases, that include CO2, each with varying global warming potential (GWP). Since CO2 is the reference gas, it is given the reference of 1, and the other greenhouse gases are then benchmarked from it e.g. Methane has a GWP of somewhere between 28-36 over a 100 year period.
So it's helpful to consolidate all GHG emissions, and treat them all with a standardised value. This helps us to better report analyse and execute strategies to reduce our overall emissions; the measurement we use is a single unit: tCO2e.
What is tCO2e?
tCO2e means "tonnes of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) equivalent".
A "Tonne" is a way of writing a metric ton, or 2,200 pounds. It is a weight measurement.
“Carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent” is a standard unit for counting greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions regardless of whether they're from carbon dioxide or another gas, such as methane.
How do you calculate my tCO2e?
We take a cradle-to-grave approach to understanding your energy consumption; assessing not only the amount of energy you use, but also understanding how the energy was generated, distributed and then retailed to you, by us. We break this down into four sections:
- Generation - How was the energy generated, and how much energy was used to make it. This is considered scope 2 and scope 3 emission, and there are standardised values that we can use for calculating this.
- Distribution / Transmission - How was the energy transported to your home? Who and what was involved in getting it there? This is considered scope 2 and scope 3 emissions, and there are standardised values that we can use for calculating this.
- Retail activities - This is our bit in the process; OVO Energy has an office in Melbourne, which uses energy to power things like light, computers, air-con, refrigeration and other energy consuming devices. We also take into account our travel requirements, and other peripheral emissions the Team at OVO might produce. All of that equates to an amount of carbon emissions being generated each year.
- Your consumption - This relates to the actual energy you're consuming at your home. How much energy are you using? What proportion of it is GreenPower? What proportion of it is made up of energy just sourced from the Grid?
By doing this we are then able to calculate how many tonnes of CO2 are created for each kWh of electricity we sell (tCO2e / kWh).
We then take the average amount of electricity that we expect you to use at your property over a year and multiply this by the tCO2e / kWh value. e.g.
Your property is expected to use 4,000kWh per year.
Our calculation for tCO2e / kWh for all energy sold in 2020 is 0.000924.
4,000kWh x 0.000924tCO2e/kWh = 3.696 tCO2e
We display this value to you in your online account, MyOVO.
About OVO Energy's carbon neutral energy
OVO Energy automatically provides all customers with a minimum of 10% GreenPower; this is a government-run and audited scheme that validates that money spent on GreenPower goes to renewable energy generators, and invests in both current and future renewable energy projects. Visit our dedicated webpage that explains this in a bit more detail at www.ovoenergy.com.au/greenpower
You can also upgrade to OVO Energy's 100% GreenPower product, for a small increase in the charge per kWh.
For any energy that isn't considered renewable, we guarantee to work to either reduce the consumption by giving our customers the tools to better understand their impact and reduce our own energy usage as a Team; and where we can't we purchase carbon offsets to cover the difference.