The World Business Council for Sustainable Development and the World Resources Institute have released new guidelines for calculating the greenhouse gas emissions benefits of renewable energy and energy efficiency projects. The Guidelines for Quantifying GHG Reductions from Grid-Connected Electricity Projects (PDF) are based on the GHG Protocol for Project Accounting (PDF) previously developed by the two organizations.
One of the challenges facing project developers and policy-makers alike has been to accurately quantify their GHG emissions benefits, according to WBCSD/WRI. In theory, coming up with the right answer involves complicated modeling of power grids, which is prohibitively costly and impractical, or alternative methods that are overly simplistic and inaccurate.
The GHG Protocol Initiative provides simple methods for estimating GHG reductions that are also rigorous, credible and transparent, according to the organizations. 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 guidelines will also 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.