Written by Merve Güngör, Coordinator at EKOenergy ecolabel in association with the Renewable Energy Institute.
It can be challenging to comprehend commonly used terminology and concepts regarding voluntary purchases of renewable energy, let alone making an extra impact.
Whether companies get their renewable electricity via a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA), a traditional green tariff or an “unbundled” purchase of certificates, it is the reliable tracking of the energy’s origin that allows the environmental attributes to be claimed by the consumer.
Many companies who are already purchasing renewable energy in liberalised markets use renewable electricity by opting for a green energy tariff from their energy provider. Since there is no way of separating the electricity produced by renewable sources from that which is produced from fossil fuels on the grid, Energy Attribute Certificates (EACs) serve as a “book and claim system” which helps track the origin of energy.
EACs such as GOs, REGOs and I-RECs prove the origin and give unique ownership over each unit of renewable electricity. This makes green attributes available for all consumers, large or small. Though the idea of EACs can at times seem somewhat theoretical, it is a working, market-based system that helps support claims for ownership of green attributes, which ensures accurate accounting.
Tracking the origin of energy this way has allowed energy companies to sell and consumers to buy renewable energy, without the risk of the same attributes being subject to what is called “double counting.”
As EACs started making the voluntary use of renewables possible and more straightforward for SMEs and large corporations alike, local and global tools for making a difference through choosing renewable energy also started being developed.
Going the extra mile
In 2013, the Finnish Association for Nature Conservation launched the EKOenergy ecolabel for renewable energy in cooperation with several other NGOs. The aim was to empower European energy consumers by offering them the option to choose renewable energy with an extra positive impact.
During the past 10 years, the non-profit EKOenergy ecolabel has developed from a European initiative to a mark of quality that is available worldwide. The EKOenergy ecolabel not only covers renewable electricity but also renewable gas and heat. Fast forward to 2023, the EKOenergy label is being used in over 70 countries.
In addition to setting practical environmental sustainability criteria to help consumers identify more sustainable renewable energy choices in the market, the additional benefits introduced by the ecolabel make it easier for consumers to go the extra mile with their choice of renewable energy.
In order to ensure the wide availability of EKOenergy-labelled energy, EKOenergy cooperates with installers of solar panels. This enables the solar installation companies to serve the same function as an EKOenergy supplier, making it possible for their clients to use electricity from their on-site installations with the EKOenergy label.
3 million euros raised for tangible impact
Prioritising tangible impact has strengthened the nonprofit initiative’s position when discussing energy-related topics, especially with large corporations. In the past 10 years, EKOenergy has provided almost 3 million euros to finance 94 solar projects that fight energy poverty in developing countries.
By collecting a mere 0.10 euros per MWh of EKOenergy-labelled energy consumption, the ecolabel has made a difference in the lives of those in remote, off-grid villages in Central Asia, Latin America and Africa. These projects have improved the lives of local communities by bringing social and humanitarian benefits, as well as addressing the UN’s SDGs including quality education, reduced inequalities, better healthcare services, and of course access to affordable clean energy, among many others.
If you would like to learn more about the projects financed by EKOenergy’s Climate Fund, visit their website: ekoenergy.org
If you would like to upgrade your knowledge on renewable energy and green technology, you can browse the Renewable Energy Institute’s catalogue of Accredited Courses here.
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