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New emissions guidance will increase demand for renewable energy

Newly published international accounting guidance to measure indirect greenhouse gas emissions is expected to push low carbon energy procurement up the corporate agenda.

Newly published international accounting guidance to measure indirect greenhouse gas emissions is expected to push low carbon energy procurement up the corporate agenda.

The new guidance, published by the Greenhouse Gas Protocol, the most widely used international accounting scheme for measuring greenhouse gas emissions, concerns so-called 'Scope 2' emissions, which cover indirect emissions from buying electricity, heat or steam.

Original Scope 2 guidance aimed to help businesses to measure, manage and report their emissions from energy consumption, focusing on energy efficiency as the main method for emissions reduction. 

Supporting procurement

However, among other changes, the new tool will also help to directly encourage corporate procurement of low carbon energy by enabling businesses to prove that their power comes from renewable sources.

The hotly anticipated changes are the first for Scope 2 emissions since 2004 and have been four years in development. 

‘Key moment’

Guy Rickard, business advice consultant at The Carbon Trust, suggested that the changes mark “the dawn of a new era” for low carbon electricity development by enabling businesses to gain recognition for their energy procurement choices.

“At first glance, it might look like this new guidance is mainly about tidying up reporting standards to reflect changes that have occurred over the last 10 years. But it is much more than that”, he said.

“In fact, I believe we may look back at this in years to come as a key moment in our collective journey towards the move to a low carbon world.”

Renewables boost

The new guidance undoubtedly represents an extra boost for renewable electricity generation, which continues to make progress in the UK despite policy uncertainty for certain technologies.

New data from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) shows that solar PV capacity almost doubled during 2014, rising from 2.8GW to almost 5GW, enough to power 1.5 million homes.

Paul Barwell, chief executive of the Solar Trade Association, said: “This milestone achievement is testament to the hard work of Britain’s several thousand solar businesses, almost all of them small and medium-sized companies, who are all at the forefront of a real solar transformation.” 

Meanwhile, despite concerns over the industry’s future as the General Election approaches, National Grid figures show that wind power provided a record 14 per cent of UK electricity needs last month, enough to power 8.7 million homes.