ENTRNCE helps Oxford Brookes explore 24/7 carbon-free energy using powerful simulation tool

As part of its push towards Net Zero, Oxford Brookes University is investigating credible routes to achieving 24/7 carbon-free energy (CFE) across its estate.

In partnership with technology innovator ENTRNCE, the university has simulated various scenarios in which a mixture of onsite and contracted energy could match the university’s electricity consumption with carbon-free electricity sources, every 30 minutes of every day.

The pioneering research was informed by ENTRNCE’s Matcher; a powerful data platform which aligns real-time electricity demand with clean energy sources.

Clean energy ‘score’

ENTRNCE’s analysis provides full transparency of Oxford Brookes’ energy consumption. The Matcher platform analyses how well consumption has historically been met by carbon-free energy sources, every 30 minutes – giving the University’s energy team a clean energy ‘score’.

Following initial analysis, ENTRNCE used the Matcher to model different clean energy scenarios. This provides valuable insight and data to establish if investments in additional clean tech will move the University closer to 24/7 CFE. For Oxford Brookes, the results reveal an optimum mix of locally-sourced corporate PPAs (wind and solar), onsite renewables and energy storage.

24/7 CFE as the gold standard

24/7 CFE has not yet been achieved by any large organisation. However, it is emerging as an exemplar for decarbonisation strategies – with significant precedence in the USA. For example, Microsoft, Google and the United States Government (the nation’s largest energy user) have all committed to 24/7 CFE by 2030.

Oxford Brookes’ 24/7 CFE project gives the University information on its energy sourcing at an extremely granular level. This is in marked contrast to the common approach to clean energy procurement, which sees organisations securing “100% renewable” tariffs from retailers. In these instances, the electricity supplied is a mixture of clean and dirty grid electricity, labelled as “green” through the purchase of Renewable Energy Guarantee of Origin (REGO) certificates. REGO-backed tariffs have come under fire for being “greenwashed”, prompting a government review into improving transparency

By shifting away from REGO-backed tariffs, Oxford Brookes will stay ahead of tightening regulations on carbon reporting, and protect itself from financial risk, as the price of REGOs has skyrocketed in recent years. Whereas REGOs could be bought for under £1 per MWh in 2019, some industry experts predict that prices will go beyond £40 or £50/MWh in the coming years.

Jaron Reddy, UK & Ireland Manager at ENTRNCE said:

“We are delighted to support Oxford Brookes University’s first foray into 24/7 carbon-free energy (CFE). Not only does this position the university as a frontrunner on climate action, it gives them the tools they need to limit their exposure to rising REGO costs and volatile wholesale electricity market prices – and prepare for tightening regulation on carbon reporting and greenwashing. This approach sets a fantastic blueprint for other universities to follow.”

Gavin Hodgson, Decarbonisation Strategic Lead at Oxford Brookes University said:

“Oxford Brookes has set an ambitious target to reach Net Zero by 2040. To achieve our ambitions it is important that we have a clearer understanding of the shape of our consumption portfolio. This allows us to target our investments in clean technologies and optimise our blend of on-site and remote generation renewable energy sources. ENTRNCE’s analysis has given us precise visibility over our carbon emissions and allowed us to simulate a future clean energy mix that will achieve our sustainability goals.”

Paul Spencer, Carbon Reduction Manager at Oxford Brookes University said:

We wanted to take a transparent and meaningful approach to carbon reduction – and the gold standard is 24/7 Carbon-Free Energy (CFE), which requires that every kilowatt-hour of electricity consumed be met with carbon-free electricity sources, every hour of every day. The robust data and analysis provided by ENTRNCE is a great first step and will be extremely useful for future energy procurement decision making.”

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