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The Next Step for Corporate Sustainability: 24/7/365 Carbon-Free Energy Matching

ENERGY – EC purchases reflect the delivery of renewable energy to the grid, but can fall short on real-time, local impacts. Michael Pariser is on the origination and power marketing team at EDF Renewables North America. **** Many of the largest corporate electricity consumers in the U.S. have committed to reducing their carbon footprint by powering their operations with renewable energy. However, the renewable energy they purchase might be generated at times that don’t coincide with their actual energy use, and the facility might be located in a different part of the electrical grid.

For some, this diminishes the impact of the renewable energy purchase in terms of reducing carbon emissions — prompting forward-thinking corporations to seek ways to achieve a closer match between their electricity consumption and the renewable energy credits (RECs) they use to offset it. Annual RECs: a good place to start, but… Under the current paradigm, a customer that retires a quantity of wind or solar RECs equal to the number of megawatt hours of electricity they use in a year can claim to have offset their electricity use with 100-percent carbon-free power. In some cases, this can be accomplished with onsite solar generation, but for corporate buyers with large energy needs, it is often achieved through the purchase of RECs from a generation facility located elsewhere.

For example, a customer might purchase RECs from a wind farm that produces most of its electricity during one part of the day, but the customer’s electricity usage might be highest at another time of day when coal and natural gas are the dominant source of power on the grid. If the wind farm is located in a different region of the country, the customer’s purchase isn’t impacting the energy mix of their local grid, exacerbating the mismatch. As such, while REC purchases do reflect the delivery of renewable energy to the grid, they often fall short when it comes to real-time, local impacts.

Corporate customers who are truly committed to reducing their carbon footprint haven’t had a way to resolve this disconnect — until now. To address this issue, EDF Renewables has conceptualized a new market instrument called a GTECH. It’s a product that we are beginning to offer at EDF Renewables, but the concept is generally applicable across the industry. So what’s a GTECH? GTECH stands for green technology energy credit hourly. “Green technology” means any generation source that’s carbon free, and “hourly” means that the credit is digitally time stamped so buyers can purchase locally generated GTECHs that directly match up with their electricity consumption (on an hourly basis at first, with finer increments possible in the future).

GTECHs can offer customers an innovative solution to bridge the gap between generation and consumption, and increase the integrity of their renewable energy purchases. GTECHs create a unique digital ID for each and every megawatt hour of renewable energy delivered to the grid, complete with information about the location and the hour in which the generation occurred. This gives companies […]

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