Going Green: What does CO2 Avoidance Mean to the Layman?


“CO2 Avoidance” has become a buzzword in the Renewable Energy scene.

Traditional power generation is from burning something which releases greenhouse gasses such as CO2 into the atmosphere. Greenhouse gasses trap heat and contribute to global warming.

Each and every one of us is contributing to these greenhouse gasses as an energy user. But is there anything you can do about it on a household level?

Well yes, by installing solar on the roof of your house to generate your own energy from the sun. When you use your own self generated energy from the sun, you won’t be using energy from TNB that is generated from burning something. Thus, reducing your carbon footprint.

According to SEDA, the power grid pollutes the atmosphere with 0.694 tonnes of CO2 per MWh generated from burning fossil fuels.

Let’s say a factory decides to install a solar energy system that claims to have a CO2 avoidance of 50 tonnes a year.

Sounds like a lot, or is it? To the layman, how much is 50 tonnes of CO2 a year? We need to compare this with something that makes sense to the every day Joe like you and me.

To put things into our perspective, we need to know how much does:

  1. An average family car pollutes the atmosphere with CO2 per year.
  2. An average Malaysian household electricity uses per year.

CO2 Contribution from an Average Car

Alright, let’s start off with cars since almost everyone has one and can relate to it.

According to the European Commission (I couldn’t find a reputable quote for Malaysia, but the numbers won’t stray too far from this I’d imagine), the average car releases 120.4 grams of CO2 per km.

Now to work out how much an average car pollutes in a year, we need to estimate the average mileage a typical Malaysian car has to go through in a year.

I found a figure from the Star News that the average Malaysian car travels about 2,349 km in a month.

Before we use this figure into our calculation, let’s see if this number is plausible. I will compare this figure with my personal commuting mileage to work.

2,349 km per month is equal to 78.3 km a day. Assuming that figure is a round trip mileage to and from work, the one-way distance to work is 39.15 km.

I know some people who commute to work way more than this every day. Also, including the occasional trips people make on the weekends, I would testify that the quoted average mileage of 2,394 km/month is realistic and can be used in our calculations.

With 2,349 km/month, the average Malaysian car drives 28,188 km per year. So the average Malaysian car releases 3.39 tonnes of CO2 in a year.

CO2 Contribution from Average Malaysian Household

Air Conditioning is one of the highest energy users in a typical home

The average Malaysian household energy consumption is 237 kWh per month (this translates to around RM145 a month). This is a very conservative figure as modern homes with 4 AC’s will see their TNB bill circa RM250+ a month.

So this works out to a contribution of about 1.97 tonnes of CO2 per year.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the average emissions per year are:

  1. Car: 3.39 tonnes of CO2 per year.
  2. Household: 1.97 tonnes of CO2 per year.

Going back to the example of a solar energy system installed on a factory that can avoid 50 tonnes of CO2 a year, in layman terms, this factory now is:

  1. Getting 14 cars off the streets for a year.
  2. Not using energy from the grid equivalent to 25 average household usage in Malaysia in a year.

Helmi

Business owner and online content creator for balkonihijau.com.

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