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Are certificates reliable? How reliable are they?

The most important core principle of the Principles and Rules of Operation of the European Energy Certificate System (the EECS Rules)  is the prevention of EECS certificates being created or used more than once for the same unit of energy being used to disclosure the source of energy to consumers; and of their being created where other certificates have been (or can be) created with the same purpose. This principle states that:

"The arrangements for issuing, transferring and cancelling EECS Certificates should be such as to eliminate the possibility of more than one EECS Certificates beariung the same purpose being issued, registered or cancelled in respect of the same unit of output, unless that purpose is public support.

The arrangements for issuing EECS Certificates should be such as to eliminate the possibility of EECS Certificates being Issued in respect of the same unit of output and attributes for which other transferrable Certificates (other than EECS Certificates of a different type where specifically permitted by the EECS Rules) have been or will be issued for the same purpose."

In short, the answer is most emphatically "no" – nobody may copy an EECS certificate!

No. This would make it far too easy for certificates simply to be photocopied and sold twice. There are similar reasons in the world of currency exchange, where electronic funds transfer is fast overtaking the use of banknotes, in order to reduce opportunities for forgery and other forms of fraud.

Some certificate issuers will provide written proof that a certificate has been "cancelled" (cashed in). However, this reduces the value of the guarantee provided by a certificate. While this practice is not banned by AIB, it is discouraged.

Internationally standardised certificates offer a more reliable form of evidence of the environmental impact of production than contracts and statistics: statistics are by their nature not accurate, and so they will always misrepresent the energy blend to the consumer; and it is extremely difficult to follow the contractual path from generator to consumer: this can involve many contracts, some of which will not distinguish between energy sources. For this reason, analysing contracts is expensive and prone to error.

The reliability of certificates depends on the presence of a standardised and reliable framework for certificate administration. This is provided by EECS, which addresses all of the administrative aspects and has been developed by an international group of practitioners over several years of practical experience, and is guaranteed by an organisation independent of the market and of any particular certificate system administrator.

Certificates must be electronic:

  • to provide guarantees against fraud
  • to provide a manageable environment for administering many, many certificates (currently over 60 million certificates are issued each year)
  • to enforce the rules and
  • to make international trade easier.

But in particular, making certificates electronic makes it much, much easier to prevent duplication.