September 17, 2007

International guidelines make GHG emission reduction benefits easier to calculate, more accurate

New guidelines for calculating the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions benefits of renewable energy and energy efficiency projects have been released by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and the World Resources Institute (WRI). The Guidelines for Quantifying GHG Reductions from Grid-Connected Electricity Projects are based on the GHG Protocol for Project Accounting previously developed by the two organizations.

Both renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies are essential for dealing with climate change. As concern about climate change has grown, however, one of the challenges facing project developers and policy-makers alike has been the accurate quantification of their GHG emissions benefits. Arriving at a correct answer can involve complicated modeling of power grids, which is prohibitively costly and impractical, or alternative methods that are overly simplistic and inaccurate.

The GHG Protocol Initiative addresses this challenge by providing simple methods for estimating GHG reductions that are also rigorous, credible and transparent. Developers of wind energy projects, for example, can use the guidelines to estimate emissions reductions using basic data on local power plants. The methods described in the guidelines can be used anywhere in the world where these data are available.

The WBCSD/WRI say the GHG Protocol is the most widely used international accounting tool for government and business leaders who need to understand, quantify and manage GHG emissions. Its developers are working with partners and groups around the world to build a new generation of credible and effective programs for tackling climate change.

The new guidelines will be useful to designers of carbon offset programs and other initiatives that give credit for GHG emission reductions from renewable energy and energy efficiency projects. The guidelines can be used, for example, to calculate standard grid emission factors indicating how much carbon dioxide is avoided by a megawatt-hour of renewable electricity.

The Guidelines for Quantifying GHG Reductions from Grid-Connected Electricity Projects have been designed to provide considerable flexibility in the choice of procedures and calculation methods, so they can be adapted to a variety of contexts. They are compatible, for example, with the GHG quantification methods for renewable energy under the Kyoto Protocol's Clean Development Mechanism.

The guideline document may be downloaded from the publications and reports section of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development Web site, www/wbcsd.org.

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