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Solar Offsets
Posted by David Levine on Apr 19, 2016
Geostellar has designed a new program to reduce the cost of home solar and increase solar savings through sponsored installations. Solar sponsors bring together community members to go solar as a group and balance the climate impact of their organizations.

A recent study commissioned by the United Nations concluded that none of the top industries in the world would be profitable if we accounted for their environmental impact. The most costly environmental impact is the result of damage we're doing to our climate by emitting greenhouse gases, which trap heat in the atmosphere rather than letting it escape into space. The EPA pegs the "social cost of carbon," meaning the econimic damages associated with greenhouse gas emissions, at $37 for each metric ton of carbon equivalents (ton CO2e).

Geostellar is partnering with companies that want to take responsibility for their emissions and enrolling their broader community to balance out the emissions associated with their business. Organizations create three types of greenhouse gas emissions. Scope one emissions are directly produced by facilities, vehicles and equipment owned by the organization. Scope two emissions are produced by the remote power plants that generate electricity used by the organization. Scope three emissions are produced by customers, employees, members and suppliers in activities outside the organizational boundaries, such as travel, food production, shipping and distribution.

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It's somewhat easier for organizations to directly reduce scope one emissions and scope two emissions than scope three. Emissions in scope one and two can be reduced through energy efficiency, on-site solar panels, conservation and waste management programs. Scope three emissions include the entire value chain, such as shipping and delivery, the manufacturing of components, employee communites and customer travel.

Some companies purchase offsets on an open market to make claims about their overall sustainability. Individuals can also purchase offsets at check-out on travel sites, "offsetting" emissions associated with the transportation. Because an international framework has not been ratified by all the major emittors, these offset prices are typically very low and don't contribute much to the reduction of environmental impact.

On sponsored solar program is different. The sponsoring organizations actively work to encourage homeowners in their community, including customers, employees, suppliers, shareholders, members, friends, neighbors and family, to go solar and sets specific goals for balancing the emissions associated with their value chain and the emissions reduced by the solar energy systems installed on the homes of community members.

Geostellar supports a formal process for applying the emissions reductions from the home solar installation to the sponsor's emissions. The process is part of the UN's Clean Development Mechanism, and will ensure that emissions are not double-counted. For example, homeowners will not be able to sell Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SRECs) and also participate in the sponsored solar program. Participating homeowners will instead receive a smaller, but still significant, discount that is not tied to their emissions reductions.

Check out your solar profile, and see the value of your emission reductions today!

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