A game-changer for DNO carbon reporting

2 min read published on April 3, 2023

ENTRNCE’s parent company, the distribution network operator Alliander, has revolutionised the way it reports its energy use and carbon emissions. 

Alliander, the largest Distribution Network Operator (DNO) in the Netherlands, has raised the standard of accuracy for its energy and carbon reporting. Up to 2022, it followed the conventional method: you take annual energy consumption and multiply it by standard emissions factors. Then you look at the renewable energy either generated or purchased by your organisation, with reference to the Guarantees of Origin (GoOs) purchased that year, and subtract that from the total.

This approach is the standard way for organisations to calculate their CO2 emissions, but it is a blunt instrument in terms of accuracy. One of Alliander’s key values is Energiebewustzijn, or energy awareness – the idea that the energy transition depends on people being aware of key concepts and information. And as a DNO, they are well aware that the concept of annual reconciliation is effectively a fiction that leads most businesses to underestimate their Scope 2 emissions.

Digging out the real data

Almost everybody acknowledges that renewable sources like wind and solar are naturally intermittent, so claiming “100% renewable” consumption is inaccurate. But many organisations still include this assumption in their reporting. For the latest annual report, ENTRNCE helped its parent company Alliander to dig deeper and seek out much more granular data on their energy consumption.

As a DNO, most of their consumption comes from grid losses or theft. But energy consumption from their offices and electric vehicle charging points also plays a part. They calculated half-hourly values for all these consumption sources to get a more accurate picture.

Then they looked at renewable generation sources, both their own solar panels and REGO-backed purchased energy. We have explained extensively why REGOs, or GoOs, give a misleading picture of how green the energy purchased really is. Energy from the grid is always, in reality, a mix of green energy and fossil fuels. The emissions factor for a location takes this into account – but if all the green energy in the grid is backed by REGOs and businesses are using these REGOS to report their consumed energy as 100% green, this means the location-based emissions factor is somewhat inaccurate (because the green energy is effectively being counted twice). Rather than using just one or two emissions factors, Alliander did the research and used half-hourly emissions factors based on changing grid conditions.

Wake-up call

Alliander’s annual report acknowledges that, so it makes sense to coordinate energy consumption with green renewable output as closely as possible. Alliander’s own score for how well it matches the two is 59%. In a world of inflated claims based on greenwashed tariffs, this may seem disappointingly low. But we already know that it is not yet possible to match consumption with 100% green energy 24/7. The only way organisations can make real progress with decarbonising their energy supply is to acknowledge their true position.

Alliander is the first DNO in the world to invest in this level of accuracy for their carbon reporting. It is a much more complex process than the conventional method, and it delivers “worse” results. But for an organisation with a powerful commitment to transparency, it makes sense for Alliander to choose this path.

Alliander has already been praised by the industry initiative EnergyTag as “a great example of how to improve green claims transparency”. ENTRNCE is proud to have supported Alliander in setting this example. Will other DNOs take note?

The Alliander annual report for 2022 is out now in Dutch and will be published in English on 6th April 2023.

Picture of Jaron Reddy - Business Lead UK

Published April 3, 2023

Jaron Reddy - Business Lead UK