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Types of certificate

EECS now supports the following:

  • Renewable energy is supported by EECS-GO (obligatory Guarantees of Origin under Directive 2009/28/EC)
  • Fossil and nuclear energy are supported by EECS Disclosure certificates (these support the Internal Markets in Electricity Directive 2009/72/EC)
  • High efficiency CHP is supported by CHP-GO (obligatory Guarantees of Origin for CHP, under Directive 2012/27/EC).

In certain circumstances this is possible, but it must be recorded on the voluntary certificate as an “earmark”. This is because some purchasers of certificates do not want to buy supported certificates. In other circumstances this is not possible: either certificates are not awarded to supported plant, or else they are immediately cancelled.

Voluntary certificates and Guarantees of Origin are given a value by the market, which benefits all parties in the supply chain. Within national support schemes that use them (for instance, Certificati Verdi in Italy, ROCs and LECs in the UK and Elcerts in Sweden), certificates have a value which has been conferred on them by government. To date, these have been managed in systems which are not integrated with EECS. However, EECS will support such certificates should this be required by government.

Voluntary certificates are those issued as the result of a voluntary initiative, and not because of a requirement under national law or regulation. These currently include iRECS certificates.

EECS certificates have standard contents. They contain information about:

  • the issuer
  • the time and date of production
  • the source of the energy and the technology used to convert it into its current form
  • the identity, capacity, commissioning date and location of the generation plant
  • units of energy (e.g. megawatt hours)
  • the purpose and eligibility of the certificate under various schemes and Directives, and whether other certificates have been issued for this unit of energy
  • whether public support has been received by the plant (investment support) or the owner of the associated energy (production support).
    • In addition, for Disclosure and CHP certificates, carbon dioxide emissions information is carried. This information is presented in a standard way, using agreed codes, data formats and rules. EECS certificates also have quality criteria: the certificate issuers are bound by a code of conduct prohibiting such matters as issuing several certificates for the same energy, and forbidding them to take a position in the market. EECS certificates may be transferred to accounts registered in databases managed by other certificate issuers by means of the EECS network.

An energy certificate is an electronic document which provides proof of the source of 1,000 kWh of electrical energy (an average European household would need between 3 and 5 certificates each year to prove where its electricity comes from).

Electricity comes from many generators and is transported to consumers across an electricity grid. This mixes energy from various sources, so it is not possible for consumer to know where their energy comes from. However, it is possible to contract with a plant to generate into the grid, and suppliers do this on behalf of their customers, using certificates as evidence that the energy has been generated. Nobody knows where the electricity flows, but certificates let us see where the money has gone.

Energy certificates can be used to support the claims of generators, suppliers and consumers as evidence of energy production or consumption, whether as proof of "green supply"; as a condition of receiving public support; or as proof of "environmental credentials".

Certificates can be bought by entering into contract of sale, either with another market party or with an Exchange. This contract may specify what they can be used for, particularly in the case of certificates that are associated with public support schemes. Note that energy suppliers represent their customer base, buying certificates on behalf of consumers.

Energy certificates are created by an independent "issuing body", which guarantees their quality and credibility by means of various checks and controls. They can then be transferred between accounts held on a central registration database (otherwise known as a "registry") by market participants. When the associated energy is sold to a final consumer, or perhaps used as evidence by a public body, then the certificate is made non-tradable and moved to a separate account from tradable certificates.

Energy certificates which are used as evidence of the use of renewable energy are also called:

  • Guarantees of Origin (GO)
  • Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs)
  • Tradable Renewable Energy Certificates (TRECs)
  • Tradable Renewable Certificates (TRCs)
  • Green certificates.

Guarantees of Origin are required under the EU "RES Directive" (2009/28/EC), which are obligatory on all Member States of the European Union.

Although it is possible for Guarantees of Origin to be printed, the EECS standard does not support this: all EECS Guarantees of Origin are electronic. The reasons for this are given elsewhere in these FAQ "Why should certificates be electronic?" and "Can you print EECS certificates?".

Guarantees of Origin are obligatory in all countries within the European Union under EU Directive 2009/28/EC (renewable energy); and EU Directive 2012/2/EC (high efficiency CHP).

There is no requirement at EU level for Guarantees of Origin for lower efficiency CHP. Nor is there a requirement at EU level for Guarantees of Origin for fossil and nuclear energy - although these are issued in Austria, Sweden and Switzerland.

However, it is useful to have certificates for all types of energy, as it enables anyone selling energy to consumers to let them know where all of the supplied the energy comes from, rather than having to use a statistically-based “residual mix”. For this reason, EECS supports certificates for fossil and nuclear energy.

Without EECS, each country might implement the Directive(s) in different ways: for instance, code “x” may be “wind” in one country, and code “y” in another. Also, the information on certificates would not always be defined in the same way. This would hinder the international transfer of Guarantees of Origin.