Powering Projects with Carbon Credits

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The latest climate change fighting project on our platform might sound a little complicated at first, but believe us — it’s as easy as AC/DC.

Our newest project, based in rural India, helps replace inefficient fossil fuel sources like kerosene lamps by assisting with the maintenance of rooftop solar panels, which provide over 40,000 rural homes with access to clean, renewable energy.

In a country where only 44% of rural residents have access to electricity, over 50 million homes are completely off the grid, and half of Indian homes cannot even afford subsidized electricity, having access to reliable and affordable power sources just isn’t common.

Further complicating that problem is the fact that many of these rural areas have no roads or ease of access, so a combination of distance from the mainland and regular flooding makes permanent power infrastructure almost impossible. Simply visiting these communities required our team to travel several hours by boat to reach these isolated river islands populated almost entirely by extremely poor Jute farmers.

As you can see, “off the grid” in rural India doesn’t just mean a spot with poor cell phone reception — it means literally off the electrical grid.

While American homes typically consume close to 900KWh per month, these small mud thatched Indian homes typically consume less than 500KWh of electricity per year, about what an average electric water heater produces in a month.

This seemingly trivial amount can now be generated in a planet-friendly way thanks to an innovative and award-winning Direct Current (DC) system created by the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras. Their installation includes a rooftop DC solar panel, a small sized battery, a converter to Alternating Current (AC), light bulbs, a fan, a mobile charging unit and an additional socket.

Sure, it sounds “complicated,” which usually means “expensive,” but this project uses a combination of carbon financing and microfinancing to make these systems more readily available to those in need. Families obtain additional savings thanks to the fact they’re no longer reliant on purchasing fossil fuels to power their homes — some families often spend up to 1/3rd of their regular income on kerosene alone. This project adds to those savings and helps keep these innovative clean energy systems running smoothly by helping the community cover maintenance and operational costs.

The relatively small footprint of DC energy (it’s easy to store and harness, plus it requires much smaller batteries and solar panels) means that once power is converted to AC via the provided converter, it’s fairly simple to provide homes with clean, reliable sources of energy and light.

The elimination of kerosene lanterns ensures that air quality indoors dramatically improves, and the included fan keeps clean air circulating while warding away pesky insects.

For those of us living in more industrialized parts of the world, it can be difficult to imagine what a life without electricity is like, but we’ve seen first-hand how something as simple as power for a light bulb and a fan can have a profound impact — they create lighting for children to study, a way to drive off dengue and malaria-causing mosquitoes, and better quality air for those who need it most. This project is a perfect example of how supporting technological innovation applied at grassroots levels in impoverished homes can not only help the planet but also support the communities where they’re based.

With verifiable carbon emissions additionality, a commitment to technological innovation, and the possibility of quick and beneficial distribution to millions of poor households connected to the grid, it’s easy to see why we love this project — but how exactly did it end up on our site?

Our Process

At Cool Effect, we take pride in knowing that every project on our platform reflects our approach to carbon offsets. There’s a reason why out of the thousands of carbon offset projects around the world, we only allow only a select few of them onto our platform. Once we’ve done the research, crunched the numbers, visited the worksites, verified the results, and added a new carbon emissions-reducing project to our site, you can rest assured that it most certainly meets our strict “Carbon Done Correctly” criteria.

Here’s how we do it. Our very first step in verifying a climate change fighting project involves a review and verification from one of the world’s major carbon standards below:

The Gold Standard — Established in 2003 by the WWF and several other international non-governmental organizations (NGOs), this certification is administered by the Gold Standard Foundation, endorsed by over 80 non-profit organizations around the world, and is widely recognized as a prime example of quality carbon credit assurance by scholars and carbon market experts around the world.

Verified Carbon Standard — Also commonly known as Verra (thanks to the name of the non-profit that maintains it) or VCS, this carbon emissions reduction standard was created in 2005 by The Climate GroupInternational Emissions Trading Association (IETA), and The World Economic Forum. The rigorous methodologies applied to Verra’s standards and programs have helped make it one of the most internationally trusted and respected standards programs in the world.

Climate Action Reserve — The “premier carbon offset registry for the North American Carbon Market,” the Reserve was originally founded in 2001 by the State of California to assist with calculation and reporting of carbon emissions. The expertise it established by “…helping over 415 leading California-based corporations, organizations, government agencies and municipalities to voluntarily calculate and publicly report their GHG emissions” has translated into expertise that now covers the entire North American market.

The American Carbon Registry — Founded in 1996 as the “first private voluntary offset program in the world,” this non-profit’s years of experience with not only science-based carbon offset standards and methodologies, but with operational experience in carbon offset project registration, verification oversight and offset issuance as well, make it a trusted source for the reliable, transparent verification of quality carbon offsets.

United Nations Clean Development Mechanism — Implemented as part of the 2005 Kyoto Protocol, the purpose of this clean development mechanism (CDM) is to encourage clean development in developing countries. The CDM allows emissions-reducing projects in developing countries to earn credits that can then be traded, sold, or otherwise used by industrialized countries to meet emissions reduction targets.

Once that’s complete, our Director of Project Research, Sid Yadav, verifies the project against a second set of international standards, such as those required by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. From there, we review the project internally with a long checklist that includes questions such as:

  • Has the project been issued carbon credits by a major carbon standard?
  • Is this carbon project additional?
  • Is the science of the project verifiable?
  • Are the project’s financials in order?
  • Is the project being run by competent, experienced management?
  • Have we visited the project site?

Once we have satisfactory answers to all of our questions and if all these criteria are met, the carbon project can be considered officially verified and added to the Cool Effect platform.

We’re committed to fighting climate change with the help of Carbon Done Correctly — are you ready to take action with us?