April 4, 2023

How do Green Energy Certification Schemes improve renewable energy buying decisions?

Buyers of renewable energy are able to achieve social distinction through the demonstrative consumption of RECs from facilities certified by green energy schemes.

What are green energy certification schemes?

Green energy per se does not have to be explained. However, certification schemes offer consistent and sustainable positioning of green energy. The certification conveys competence and provides customers with a guarantee that the Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) they are purchasing originate from reputable renewable energy (RE) generators, with significant environmental benefits.

The Green-e® Energy program, which is one such scheme, is administered by the Center for Resource Solutions (CRS) and has been certifying clean energy sold to consumers since 1997. Through the program, consumers are able to buy RECs that meet the highest standards in North America. The entire chain of certificate custody is audited by Green-e® to ensure that certificates are never claimed twice and consumers receive value for their investment.

How do these schemes help the green energy market and the environment?

Buyers of renewable energy, who are aware of certification schemes, understand that the uptake of certified RECs call for increased ecological demands on products and manufacturing. A certification label triggers the willingness to pay extra among customers, providing more returns to the project developers. This, in turn, incentivizes upcoming projects to be developed that conform to the standards set, thus boosting high-quality renewable energy generation on the electricity grid.

Certified green-energy products are also highly marketable since it influences the buying decisions of customers who base them on the certification and other relevant attributes applicable to them (vintage, fuel type, etc). It also provides project owners with the option to promote the labels their products contain as an additional benefit and point of difference from other certificates.

The criteria encompassed by a certification label are not the only ones that a product would contain. It is common for project developers and utilities to adopt the standards set by labels in addition to any renewable portfolio standards (RPS) set by the country or state. This self-adherence to the standards set by certification schemes enhances the positive environmental effect of their renewable energy products.

Besides, most labels allow customers to select multiple levels of diligence they are willing to undertake, aligned with their individual interests. This freedom of choice is advantageous to the customer and implies that relevant stakeholders can understand the different quality of environmental claims that come with the corresponding labels. As a result, it fosters engagement with customers and provides them with confidence in the informed decision when buying RECs.

For example, the Center for Resource Solutions (CRS) publicly lists facilities that have submitted their tracking attestation forms. Customers can look for RECs from these facilities that would conform with the standards set by the CRS. However, to claim the benefits associated with Green-e® Energy certification additional auditing is conducted annually.

How do buyers currently buy RECs that are certified?

Buyers that want RECs with a specific eco-label certification currently need to contact their broker with their specifications and wait to hear back from prospects. This process usually is time-consuming as the broker needs to find the right RECs, within a pre-approved price range.

However, if the customer is dissatisfied with the offer, the broker must go back into the market. There are also chances that the eco-labels that come with the RECs might be misrepresented as having more benefits than what they actually contain during the procurement process.

Buy certified RECs with trust on TraceX

Using the TraceX platform, customers can select their preferred certification scheme, or label, as an order attribute, providing them with a targeted method to buy RECs that are aligned with their interests. TraceX currently supports the purchase of RECs that are from CRS-listed facilities and RECs certified by ECOLOGO® from the M-RETS registry.

To ensure that RECs within TraceX are correctly tagged as being from a CRS-listed facility, Powerledger employs rigorous measures to compare the data within the RECs (pertaining to the generator) against the list provided by CRS. This is done on a daily basis.

Furthermore, when users buy RECs on the platform they are able to see the effective date and expiry date of the generator that produced the certificates, within a downloadable transaction summary. Our proprietary blockchain tracks each successful transfer of ownership along with the attributes contained in the RECs, providing an immutable audit trail for each transaction.

“Our industry-leading standards ensure that CRS Listed generators meet the highest level of quality,” said Jennifer Martin, executive director of Center for Resource Solutions. “By sourcing from CRS Listed facilities, renewable energy sellers can mitigate risk in their supply contracts and help to  incentivize new clean energy development."

The voluntary REC market is growing steadily and green power products with strict ecological criteria are increasingly being viewed as favourable. The additional environmental benefit that comes with certified green power products is an important aspect of the success and growth of the market. TraceX will catalyse this growth by providing the right tools, allowing the users to buy RECs with the attributes most relevant to them.

Finally, TraceX will bolster the reason why RECs were created - to encourage the production and use of renewable power. Whilst offering greater returns to renewable energy generators, TraceX facilitates all this within a marketplace that is trustworthy and transparent.

Watch this video below to see how REC's from CRS-listed facilities, and their relevant eligibilities, are distinguished within the TraceX platform. As of April 2023, there are additional new features within the TraceX platform to ensure users have a seamless experience when trading renewable energy.

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