Does your renewable energy meet the good quality criteria?

Published 12th May 2016 by Lucy Haines

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Increasingly businesses are responding positively to the climate change agenda driven by COP21, government policy and investor and stakeholder interest, by making a commitment to buying renewable energy. So much so that many of world’s most influential companies have signed up to the RE100 initiative and committed themselves to purchasing 100% renewable power.

However, switching to renewable energy and proving the validity of a renewable tariff can present a few challenges. Companies are demanding more and more transparency over the source of the renewable electricity they procure, with suppliers sometimes unable to provide the necessary information.

The Issue

When businesses buy renewable energy from electricity suppliers, in effect it takes the form of a ‘bundled’ package of electrons and green energy certificates. However, tracking the renewable energy back to its source is not always straight forward, and the buyer has no control over which renewable projects the certificates are purchased from. This can make transparency for auditors and proof of good quality renewable procurement difficult.

Added to this the Greenhouse Gas Protocol recently revised the criteria for Scope 2 emissions accounting. The amendments recommend all businesses with any operations in markets providing product or supplier-specific data, to report their Scope 2 emissions using both the ‘location based’ and the ‘market based’ methodologies. This revision aims to:

  1. provide clarity over what a renewable energy purchase looks like when it is used for zero-carbon claims,

  2. to avoid any double counting of renewable energy,

  3. to provide a way for businesses to drive down their Scope 2 emissions.

CDP has incorporated these rules into the 2016 Climate Change questionnaire, widening the scope of influence to the 6000 or so companies that disclose to CDP.

The nub of this is that in order to meet the reporting criteria for renewable energy and report zero or low carbon emissions, traceable energy attribute certificates are required.

The Solution

So what options do you have if you need to prove the quality of your renewable energy purchase for the GHG Protocol, CDP, auditors and beyond?

At Carbon Clear, we’re supporting our clients by unbundling their energy procurement. This allows them to source their energy from the grid for a suitable price from the electricity supplier, and purchase their renewable energy certificates from the market, creating a verifiable renewable energy package that is superior to a bundled package at the same or better pricing.

Guarantee of Origins (GOs), Renewable Energy Guarantees of Origins (REGOs) and Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) are all types of attributable tracking certificate that provide the necessary tool to prove the quality and source of your renewable energy. GOs, REGOs and RECs represent the environmental attribute associated with one megawatt-hour (1 MWh) of generated renewable energy. When renewable power is delivered to the electricity grid, the associated renewable energy certificate can be sold independently of the power, and hence, becomes ‘unbundled’.

By purchasing GOs, REGOs or RECs you are able to choose the location, technology and quality of the renewable energy projects you would like to support, whether that be solar, onshore/offshore wind, tidal or hydro power.

Finally, by purchasing certificates, you are actively helping increase the financial viability of renewable energy projects, allowing more clean-power producers to enter the marketplace.

Photo by @fableandfolk 

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