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Energy Attributes Certificates guarantee origin and reliability

3 min.

Energy Attributes Certificates guarantee origin and reliability

GO, RECs and i-RECs: various types of green energy certificates of origin.

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Energy Attributes Certificates (EAC) are issued as proof of electricity produced by renewable sources. Each EAC endorses that 1MWh was generated and injected to the grid by a specific renewable source, such as wind or solar plant. A certificate is often bought, sold and cancelled with prices determined by a supply and demand market. 

When an eligible energy producer generates electricity, it receives certificates for the corresponding volume produced that can be kept by the producer, released on the market or transferred to third parties such as final consumers. They can be sold as bundled with the electricity or unbundled, which means sold separately. These certificates have become a sort of currency in the renewable energy market, helping buyers to credibly claim their sustainable energy choice and reduce their environmental impact.

The most common types of EAC: GO, RECs and i-REC

The tool used by the European Union’s energy market is an electronic certification called Guarantee of Origin (GO), a certificate guaranteeing that electricity is totally traceable. A GO certificate is issued, pursuant to Directive 2009/28/EC, for every MWh of renewable electric energy input into the grid by certified IGO plants (Plants with Guarantee of Origin).

All GO certificates are issued, transferred and voided electronically through a specific web portal. The Register of Guarantees of Origin of each European country is then locally managed by specific national bodies. In Italy this role is performed by the Electrical Services Manager (GSE). GO can be exchanged through the Platform of Bilateral Contracts or on the GO Market: both managed by GME (Energy Market Manager). They are issued on a monthly basis and expire within the calendar year the energy was produced or on 31 March of the following year at the latest.

In the United States and Canada, the main tool are RECs (Renewable Energy Certificates System). They are used both for compliance reporting as well as voluntary consumption and comply with the Greenhouse Gas Protocol. RECs certify the production of electricity from renewable sources and are supported by several different levels of government, regional electricity transmission authorities, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and trade associations, as well as in U.S. case law. The supremacy of RECs to demonstrate the voluntary usage of renewable electricity and the attributes of its production is recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. DOE, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC), The Climate Registry, the CDP (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project), and Center for Resource Solutions (CRS)/Green-e, among others.

International REC Standard (i-RECs) are used in other regions of the world where green energy certification systems do not yet exist. The brokerage of a non-profit organizations ensures that renewable energy producers can access this market to render their own clean energy traceable, tradable and reliable even in the countries that don’t have their own certification systems.

Similar to a REC and a GO’s, each I-REC represents proof that 1 MWh of renewable energy has been produced and embodies the environmental benefits that amount of renewable energy has generated. Buying and voiding EAC is done in such a way as to compensate for energy consumed from the grid during a specific timeframe, thereby boosting the production of clean energy.

EAC are separate from the physical distribution of electricity, as they can be bought and sold separately from the electricity they refer to. Buyers contribute to the remuneration of the electricity produced from renewable sources by purchasing the certificates, thereby asserting the buyers’ commitment to protecting the environment.

As an alternative to GO’s, REC and I-REC Standard, for those Countries where an international standard certification is not yet in place, there are national certification as CEL in Messico and LGC in Australia.

On top of the different EAC that clients are acquiring, Enel Green Power has available a Green label (that is backed up by one of the certificates) that they can use as a marketing leverage to their final customers that don’t know what is a EAC.

If you or your company is interested in understanding which options are available in a specific sector and/or would like to use the green label, please contact our Commercial team to commercialegp@enel.com.

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