Smart Solar Solutions
13 April 2019

This is how much a solar power plant reduces CO2 emissions

Many companies have ambitious goals to become carbon neutral or reduce their CO2 emissions. Photovoltaics is an easy and visible way to reduce emissions. How much can your company reduce emissions with its own solar power plant? In the blog, we will reveal the way Solnet calculates the correct emission reduction.

Electricity consumed in Europe is produced with, for example, hydro-, nuclear- and wind power, as well as the burning of coal, peat, natural gas and biomass. Carbon dioxide emissions are generated from electricity production. Public electricity and heat production in the European Union generated 934 million metric tons of CO2 emissions in 2018. This was a reduction of 35% when compared to 1990.

Solar power generation, however, is completely emission-free. Solar panels generate electricity and this does not generate any greenhouse gas emissions. Electricity produced by the property's own solar power plant replaces electricity purchased from the electricity grid and therefore reduces emissions.

How is the emission reduction calculated?
If photovoltaics are zero-emission, how much will it reduce emissions? Every European country has its own CO2 (greenhouse gas) emission intensity of electrical generation. The indicative level in 2019 in the European Union was 275 grams CO2 per kWh*. source: European Energy Association. There are significant differences between countries as it comes to their emission intensity. In 2019, Finland for example scores 86 grams, the UK 463 grams, Germany 338 grams and the Netherlands 390 grams of CO2/kWh. All these data derived from the European Environment Agency.
At Solnet Finland, we use the average emission factor of Finnish electricity production as a three-year moving average in the calculation. According to Statistics Finland (2021), this figure is 131 kg CO2 / MWh. This way of calculating is Motiva Oy's recommendation.

To conclude, we have found that other types of emission factors are also used in the market. Whatever source you use, remember one thing. If you compare different suppliers' promises of emission reductions, make sure to use the same emission factor!

How much can you reduce emissions with photovoltaics?
To get caught up in the size classes, below are three example items. There are many variables in real life, but the magnitude is as follows:

  • Office or hotel: 5-10 tons of CO2 per year
  • A Logistics centre: 50 tons of CO2 per year
  • A large car dealership or an industrial plant: +100 tons of CO2 per year

Take a step towards carbon neutrality
Solar energy is an easy and concrete step towards carbon neutrality. With your own solar power plant, you can typically make an emission reduction for your property’s electricity use in line with the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement. This step is worth taking if your goal is to be carbon neutral one day.

More benefits
Photovoltaics also brings other benefits to your business. Download the whitepaper
"Benefits of Solar" here and find out what they are.

Chris Limberger,
Manager Marketing & Business Development