The carbon footprint is now a hot topic among companies, mainly as a result of the Paris Agreement, which was and outcome of UN Climate conference in Paris (COP21) in December, 2015.  By signing it, governments made a commitment to mainly focus on reducing the production of greenhouse gases, which are a major contributor to global climate change. The goal of this agreement is to keep the average temperature increase well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels (ideally 1.5 °C). This agreement was confirmed in Glasgow in 2021 (COP 26), where countries committed to targeting the lowest realistic limit (1.5 °C). This means, among other things, that countries and businesses will reduce their dependence on fossil fuels as their main source of energy. The European Union has committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40% by 2030 compared to 1990.

Why are companies reducing CO2?

GHG protocol and standards

The GHG Protocol, the corporate standard for measuring and reporting carbon footprints, records a total of seven anthropogenic greenhouse gases, with carbon dioxide – CO2 – being the most prevalent.

The GHG Protocol established a division of emissions related to a company’s activities into three scopes, based on the origin of the emissions. This division has become a widely used international standard.

  • Scope 1 (direct emissions) – These are direct emissions, which include the controlled activities of a given business where emissions are released directly into the atmosphere. They include, for example, emissions from boilers, fossil fuel burning generators or emissions from mobile sources (e.g. cars) owned by the company.
  • Scope 2 (indirect energy emissions) – Emissions associated with the consumption of purchased energy (electricity, heat, steam or cooling) that are not generated directly by the business but are a consequence of the activities of the business. These are indirect emissions from sources that are not directly controlled by the company, but still have a significant impact on their magnitude.
  • Scope 3 (other indirect emissions) – Emissions that result from the activities of the business and that arise from sources outside the control or ownership of the business but are not classified as Scope 2 (e.g. business air travel, third party purchase and transport of materials).

In addition to the GHG Protocol, a number of ISO 14000 standards aim to reduce the negative environmental impacts of corporate management. ISO 14064 (greenhouse gases) and ISO 14067 (product carbon footprint – requirements and guidance for quantification) deal directly with emissions production and calculation.

Green Deal: a green agreement for Europe

The aim of this deal is to make Europe climate neutral in 2050. The most frequently mentioned objective is precisely the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and overall sustainability. From 2023, it is believed that companies will comprehensively document their CO2 emissions in non-financial reporting.

 

So how to calculate emissions?

The direct method of measuring emissions is hardly used in the case of greenhouse gases. Therefore, the most common method for determining a company’s carbon footprint is to calculate GHG emissions based on verified and documented emissions. This is why the use of verified, specific and up-to-date emission factors is essential. Emission factors express the amount of greenhouse gases per unit of energy or per unit quantity of a given source.

Emission factors for basic energy and fuel sources according to the CZMÚ:

Emission factors

Fuel (definition according to IPCC 2006 Guidelines) NCV

[TJ/kt]

CO2 EF a)

[t CO2/TJ]

Oxidation factor CO2 EF b)

[t CO2/TJ]

Crude oil 42.5 73.3 1 73.3
Light fuel oil (LTO) 42.6 74.1 1 74.1
Heavy fuel oil (TTO) 39.5 77.4 1 77.4
Liquid petroleum gas (LPG) (d) 45.945 65.86 1 65.86
Petrochemical spray (naphtha) 43.6 73.3 1 73.3
Bitumen 40.193 80.7 1 80.7
Lubricants 40.193 73.3 1 73.3
Petroleum coke 39.4 97.5 1 97.5
Other oils 39.29 73.3 1 73.3
Coking coal (d) 29.498 93.53 1 93.53
Other hard coald) 26.511 94.41 0.9707 91.64
Brown coal and lignited) 13.228 99.35 0.9846 97.82
Briquettes 23.055 97.5 0.9846 96
Coke ( black coal) 28.299 107 1 107
Coke oven gas(TJ/mill. m3) c) 16.064 44.4 1 44.4
Natural gas(TJ/Gg) d) 47.114 55.45 1 55.45
Natural gas(TJ/mill. m3) d) 34.51 55.45 1 55.45

The direct method of measuring emissions is hardly used in the case of GHG measurement. Therefore the most common method for determining the carbon footprint of a company is to calculate GHG emissions based on verified and documented emissions. The use of verified, specific and actual emission factors is therefore essential. Emission factors express the number of greenhouse gases per unit of energy or per unit quantity of a given source.

Scope 2 electricity emission factor

The electricity emission factor cannot be described by a single value as it depends on the composition of the electricity grid. Its average value for 2020 was 0.384 tCO2/MWh, and its current value ranges from 0.330-0.420 tCO2/MWh. To determine the current value of the factor it is necessary to know the current energy mix, i.e. how each power plant contributes to the overall composition of the electricity network. It is also important to include imports and exports abroad in the overall electricity emission factor. The resulting electricity emission factor is calculated as a weighted average of all the emission factors of the electricity sources.

According to IPCC2014 Annex 3, the following emission factors are used:

 

Technology Minimum Median Maximum
Coal 740 820 910
Natural gas – combined cycle 410 490 650
Biomass – reserved 130 230 420
Solar photovoltaics – utility 18 48 180
Solar photovoltaics – roof 26 41 60
Geothermal 6 38 79
Concentrated solar power 8.8 27 63
Hydropower 1 24 2200
Offshore wind turbine 8.0 12 35
Nuclear 3.7 12 110
Onshore wind turbine 7.0 11 56

 

AXIOM as a right hand in CO2 monitoring and optimization

Not surprisingly, the basis for determining the Scope 2 carbon footprint is the measurement of energy consumption. With regular readings, the AXIOM platform can calculate the current electricity emission factor and thus determine the carbon footprint of a company as accurately as possible. At the same time, thanks to the possibility of integrating smart grid or photovoltaics into the platform, it is also possible to observe its gradual reduction.

It can often happen that the overall carbon footprint increases due to the growth of the company. It is, therefore, necessary to normalize it to make comparisons. The AXIOM platform allows you to integrate production machines and relate the carbon footprint to the use of given production technology or, for example, to connect input terminals and relate the carbon footprint to the number of employees per shift. The reduction of CO2 can therefore be illustrated, by relating the carbon footprint per unit of turnover, product, or employee.

But AXIOM is not just an energy monitoring tool. The platform can also actively reduce the carbon footprint through efficient energy management according to ISO 50 001. One of the main advantages is the active management of the reserved power (1/4 hr maximum), so you don’t have to worry about exceeding it and resulting in expensive penalties. AXIOM, as an integration platform, can also incorporate all systems that enable communication (HVAC systems, compressors, sensors for temperature, humidity, air quality, parking occupancy, …) and security features (cameras, entry terminals, electric locks, card readers, …). It also allows monitoring and control of light sources, water, or other liquid and gas consumption. The platform also helps with preventive and predictive maintenance based on long-term monitoring and automatic data evaluation.

Reducing the CO2 footprint and sustainability in general is and will be a hot topic. Companies are already starting to take steps towards a greener future. If you also look at how to deal with this topic in your company, our specialists will be happy to help you. Contact us or request an AXIOM demo right away to find out how to monitor, manage and optimize energy more efficiently.

Jaroslav Hujňák Smart Technologies Programmer