Renewable energy trading certificates
It advocated the use of a standard energy certificate to provide evidence of the renewable energy trading certificates of a quantity of renewable energy, and provided a methodology which enables renewable energy trade, enabling the creation of a market for renewable energy and so promoting the development of new renewable energy capacity in Europe.
A RECS energy certificate was issued for every 1 megawatt-hour MWh of renewable energy produced by an electricity generation facility that was registered with the relevant national RECS issuing body. These certificates could be transferred between market parties in different countries, renewable energy trading certificates were used to provide evidence of the consumption of renewable energy — at which point they were made non-transferable, in order to ensure that the "renewable benefit" was not double-sold.
While RECS guaranteed the source of the energy and prevented double-counting, it was not a label: Labels must also ensure that sales of labelled electricity either do not change the blend of sources of electricity that is supplied unlabelled, or that renewable energy trading certificates buyers of such electricity are informed accordingly. Several non-governmental environmental organizations like Greenpeace and the World Wide Fund for Nature claimed that in practice there was no ecological benefit ensured by this certification method alone.
Indeed, renewable energy trading certificates electricity traders misuse RECS certificates that they bought from old renewable source electricity power plants that had existed for years to imply misleadingly that buying their "RECS certified regenerative electricity" made a change to the environment.
Reputable eco-friendly electricity labels ensure an ecological benefit in practice. Some reputable labels like the WWF co-funded German "ok-power" label also used RECS, but only as a broadly-accepted accounting and tracking system to register the renewable energy trading certificates plants against double-selling ; other labels required direct contracts for delivery with the plant as an alternative. The crux of such efforts was to additionally insist that the certificate-selling or directly-contracted power plant met important eco-orientated standards; those standards typically encompassing a maximum age of the power plant to ensure that new power plants are built and the banning of power plants that act against landscape or animal protection.
Other labels co-issued by environmental organizations required that a part of the fee of every kWh be donated for investment in new eco-friendly power plants or technology. Primarily catering to residences and small businesses, the company provided customers with details about the wind or solar farm where their RECS certificates were generated.
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