With 20 years’ experience and a global network of project partners, we work with our clients to deliver high quality solutions that ensure immediate, positive impact on the world’s natural capital.
We speak to Elliott Engelmann, Manager at Center for Resource Solutions (CRS), about the expansion of Green-e Energy - North America’s leading quality mark for voluntary renewable energy purchases - and the value it delivers to companies with bold renewable energy commitments.
Read more about CRS, Green-e Energy and Elliott Engelmann at the bottom of this article, and contact us for more information about sourcing renewable energy in North America.
Rosie Helson (RH): What does it mean today, in 2018, for a company to purchase Green-e Energy certified Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs)?
Elliott Engelmann (EE): RECs are a valuable democratizing tool for companies of all sizes in all locations looking to green their energy consumption. Many companies don’t have the resources to participate in the Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) market, nor the ability to install onsite renewables, but by procuring RECs that are Green-e Energy certified, companies can ensure those RECs are being independently verified, not counted toward a state or utility mandate, and that the projects meet quality standards. In short, Green-e Energy certified RECs allow purchasers to demonstrate support for climate action, while ensuring their purchase meets the highest industry standards. RECs remain the only way to demonstrate the purchase of renewable energy in the U.S. and Canadian territories, and are integral to all renewable purchasing options, including virtual PPAs, community choice aggregation, utility programs, and of course unbundled RECs.
RH: Can you tell us about how the Green-e Energy certified REC market is progressing?
EE: In 2017, the Green-e Energy certified REC market experienced significant growth, as it has nearly every year since Green-e was established in 1997. Certified REC sales accounted for nearly 50 Million megawatt-hours (MWh) for the first time in Green-e’s history, an increase of 25% over the prior year. We attribute this success to continued corporate interest in ease and flexibility of purchasing RECs, the increasing availability of residential purchasing options, and a general expansion in the total number of companies purchasing renewable energy. RECs are an important option for many renewable purchasers, since utility green power programs aren’t available in large swaths of the U.S.
RH: What are the top trends in the North American REC market at the moment?
EE: The REC market is reflective of many supply and demand drivers, including state renewable portfolio standards (RPS), new offerings like virtual PPAs, and community choice programs. From our perspective, we’re seeing increased commitments from large companies overall, including in the number of companies purchasing unbundled RECs.
RH: In your opinion, what are the current barriers to increasing renewables in the grid in North America?
EE: The challenges associated with the growth of the renewable energy market in the U.S. are highly regional. Some states have aggressive goals and complementary policies that create better access, but there remain large parts of the country where there are few options. While states can create enormous incentives to renewable energy development in the form of increasing RPS and other programs, there are many regions in the country that lack any meaningful state policies to promote renewables expansion. Building transmission capacity is still a challenge. From a technological perspective, energy storage is poised to play a significant role in expanding the reach of renewables, and battles around net metering (programs that incentivize onsite solar generation) will influence residential and commercial onsite solar expansion in some states. CRS stays extremely involved in these issues, in ensuring policymaking increases access.
RH: Can you share a bit about the future plans for Green-e Energy?
EE: CRS is increasing Green-e Energy’s scope in international markets, as a quality mark that sits on top of tracking systems, such as I-REC, TIGRS, or national tracking systems. Because of our experience with standard development, we are able to help inform renewable development from almost the ground up, ensuring the technological and policy pieces are in the right place. We’ve learned a lot from our 20 years of expanding Green-e and helping develop green power markets in other parts of the world, and are well placed to help other regions avoid some of the early stumbling blocks the U.S. experienced. We’ve been working on market reform in China for over a decade, and have expanded our work throughout Asia, including in Singapore and Taiwan. CRS is also working in South America, including developing a Green-e standard for Chile. It’s important for us to continue to be actively involved in state and federal policy at home, advocating for common sense rulemaking that expands clean energy options for companies and households throughout North America, while also using our experience and expertise to help grow clean energy markets throughout the world.
RH: With RE100 members increasing in numbers, what is the role of 100% renewable energy commitments in this market?
EE: In short, the role of 100% renewable energy commitments is huge. The demand from corporate purchasers has played an enormous role in recent renewable development. Along with utilities, electricity service providers, and community choice programs investing in new development to serve their customers, corporations taking responsibility for their own renewable procurement is one of the great success stories of the last decade.
Contact Natural Capital Partners’ VP Americas, Mark LaCroix, to discuss how to meet your renewable energy goals in North America: firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Green-e Energy and Center for Resource Solutions
A program of the nonprofit Center for Resource Solutions, Green-e is the leading independent consumer protection program for the sale of renewable energy and greenhouse gas reductions in the retail market. Green-e offers certification and verification services through Green-e Energy, a renewable energy certification program; Green-e Climate, a greenhouse gas emission reduction certification program; and Green-e Marketplace, a program that provides forward-thinking organizations a simple, nationally recognized logo they can use to communicate their renewable energy and climate commitment to their customers and stakeholders. To learn more about Green-e Certified products and programs available in all 50 states and Canada, visit www.green-e.org.
About Elliott Engelmann
Elliott is a Manager at Center for Resource Solutions, where he oversees Green-e corporate programs. Elliott works with companies like Procter & Gamble, Smuckers and Starbucks to validate their renewable energy investments and communicate their sustainability strategies to their customers. Contact Elliott at email@example.com to learn more about Green-e’s corporate renewable energy work.