Emission Control: Stark warning to business leaders to take lead on slashing Scope-3 emissions
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Emission Control is Stockhead’s fortnightly take on all the big news surrounding developments in renewable energy.
Energy transition experts say many businesses have more than 70% of their carbon footprint coming from Scope-3 emissions and are urging corporate leaders to take climate action as the technology and funding already exists.
Scope-3 emissions are greenhouse gases caused by supply chain processes or a result of products, exports or services not controlled directly by the organisation.
Julian McCarthy, Partners in Performance director of energy transition in Australia and New Zealand, says this includes emissions arising from investments and leased assets, the use of sold products, or transportation and distribution.
“It’s time for businesses to move past addressing only scope 1 and 2,” he said.
But while more than 2,000 corporations worldwide have made ‘science-backed commitments’ to emissions reductions through the The Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), progress among major contributors is undeniably lagging.
According to reports, only about 38% of roughly 11,000 companies who submitted environmental data are engaging with suppliers on climate change.
“Reducing one’s carbon footprint should be front of mind for business leaders, and it comes down to more than environmental protection,” Partners in Performance’s Inga von Fircks said.
“Today, energy transition is a business imperative and there will be winners and losers.
“Several of our clients have started to experience pressure on their emissions when negotiating local and global contracts.”
Reaching 30pc reduction by 2030 is technically feasible, and in most cases even financially attractive, von Fircks explained.
“For most businesses this requires changes that cannot be implemented overnight.
“From a business perspective, if your main trading partners haven’t made a 2030 emission reduction commitment yet, you need to engage and collaborate with them now before the time to act expires.”
According to von Fircks, today’s main challenge is less about measurement, and more about businesses and their trading partners making commitments that align with one another.
“Energy transition requires corporate agility and cooperation, and it has moved beyond the reduction of purely scope 1 and 2.
“Leaders must now proactively pursue opportunities to decarbonise within their value chain to keep pace with the market,” said von Fircks.
A study led by The University of South Australia (UniSA) has indicated “tens of thousands” of wind turbines will end up in landfill by the end of the decade unless end of life programs are established soon.
Led by Professor Peter Majewski, the study highlights the challenges of recycling wind turbine blades, which are made of either carbon fibre or glass fibre composite material, both of which are expensive to break down, with the recovered materials having minimal market value.
“The same features that make these blades cost-effective and reliable for use in commercial wind turbines make them very difficult to recycle in a cost-effective fashion,” Prof Majewski says.
“As it is so expensive to recycle them, and the recovered materials are worth so little, it is not realistic to expect a market-based recycling solution to emerge, so policymakers need to step in now and plan what we’re going to do with all these blades that will come offline in the next few years.”
In many parts of the world, wind turbine blades are currently dumped in landfill, but this practice has been banned in some European countries, and with estimates suggesting there will be more than 40 million tons of blade waste worldwide by 2050, alternative solutions are urgently being sought.
Prof Majewski says that, while there is some very limited potential for reuse of blades in niche construction settings and a small market for some of the reclaimed materials, it is likely the costs of disposing of the blades in a sustainable fashion will need to be factored into their production and running costs.
“Our research indicates the most likely viable option is a product stewardship or extended producer responsibility approach, where the cost of recycling the blades is factored into either the cost of their manufacture or the cost of their operation.
“So, drawing on the experience of similar programs for other products, either the manufacturer must take responsibility for what needs to be done with the blades at the end of their useful life, or the wind farm operators must provide end-of-life solutions as part of the planning approval process for their business operations.”
With Australia powering ahead as a solar-powered nation, a major environmental problem is looming.
Solar panels at the end of their useful life have the potential to become a hazardous waste management issue if disposed of in landfill where materials in the panels can leach into soil and groundwater.
According to Rob Gell of Solar Recovery Corporation, many solar panels are currently ending up in landfill.
Similar to all electronic waste from retired technology, solar panels contain hazardous materials and when disposed of incorrectly are dangerous to the environment and human health.
“Some states have banned solar panels from landfill, but by 2030 millions of solar panels could end up in landfill unless we have universal legislation and programs to manage this valuable material,” Gell said.
“In our efforts to generate sustainable energy, we have potentially caused another massive headache.
“Solar panels are expected to operate usefully for two or three decades, however, evidence suggests that damage from storms, reduced performance and other issues typically reduce their lifespan requiring them to be replaced sooner than expected.”
Solar Recovery Corporation is accepting end-of-life solar panels now in Townsville and Biloela, Queensland.
The first processing centre with the European cutting-edge extraction technology will be located in Central Queensland and will commence processing by end of August this year.
Further sites are earmarked for regional locations Australia-wide. Solar Recovery Corporation has formed a partnership with European company, La Mia Energia (LME), which manufactures clean technology built to process end-of-life solar PV panels.
“We are focused on diverting 100 per cent of all end-of-life solar panels from landfill so the materials can be recovered for use in other industries,” Gell said.
This part fortnight only eight companies finished in the green, four flat-lined and 31 ended in the red zone.
Australian clean energy company PH2 has settled a dispute to repay R & D tax incentive refunds with the Department of Industry and Science (ISA) and the Australia Taxation Office (ATO).
The matter was taken to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal over three years ago and now the parties have consented to orders whereby Real Energy’s R&D tax incentive claims for the financial years ended June 30 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 have been upheld and the adverse finding of ISA have been set aside.
Real Energy is no longer required to repay any R&D tax incentive refunds and there is no income tax liability for past years.
Accordingly Pure Hydrogen will have turnaround of approximately $13.1m – it will no longer be liable for a claim from the ATO of $7.2m to repay R&D tax incentive refunds and instead be entitled to a refund estimated at $5.9m.