Across Europe, consumers are choosing renewable electricity and are doing so on a large scale. Last year consumers actively chose to buy more than 550TWh of renewable electricity, roughly equivalent to 20% of all European electricity consumption. Including green electricity that consumers cannot choose to buy because it part of their nation’s general electricity mix, such as is the case in Germany, 770 TWh of renewable electricity was consumed in Europe, according to Renewable Energy Certificate Systems (RECS) International, a non-profit organization that supports renewable energy providers.
“This is a phenomenal accomplishment by European consumers yet it is not reported in national or European statistics,” says Jared Braslawsky, secretary general of RECS International. “We are always focusing on production.”
Consumer surveys show that citizens are willing to pay a premium for renewable electricity, according to Joerg Muhlenhoff, renewable energy spokesperson of BEUC, the European Consumer Association. In France and Germany people are willing to pay up to 10% more for 100% renewables-powered electricity, while in the Netherlands a third of consumers surveyed were willing to pay up to 12 euro more per month for renewables.
“We want these facts, the detail of what consumers are choosing, to be mandatorily reported Europe-wide. We’d like to see a dual reporting obligation in the new renewable energy directive,” says Braslawsky. The new renewable energy directive (REDII) will apply to the period 2020-2030, and legislative proposals are anticipated before the end of 2016.
Dual reporting already corporate best practice
Dual reporting, in which both production and consumption data are gathered and communicated, has already become standard practice for corporate renewable energy users.
“5,500 companies in one reporting agency alone, CDP (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project), report electricity usage based on a production mix and a company-specific consumption mix, a method developed by the Greenhouse Gas Protocol,” says Braslawsky.
RE100, the global initiative of big businesses such as Google, Microsoft and Ikea, which are committed to 100% renewable electricity, supports the concept.
“Dual reporting is a really important area and definitely something that we support,” says Emily Farnworth, RE100 campaign director. Most RE100 members have operations in Europe and they have an increasing desire to know more about their electricity needs, she says. “We seem to still be in a very traditional mindset focused on what generation capacity is needed,” she continues.
Tom Lindberg, managing director of ECOHZ, a Norwegian renewable energy supplier, fully supports the call for dual reporting.
“Let’s show both,” he says. “Yes, let’s recognize a production mix in a country which allows us to reach the 2020 targets, but let’s also recognize that a country has this customer-driven demand. It should be recognized and communicated.”
Doing the math
“The good news,” says Braslawsky, “is that governments wouldn’t have to do a huge amount as much of the consumption information is already available. It just isn’t being looked at and reported in the right way.”
Already member states measure national renewables production through the guarantee of origin (GO) instrument defined in the Renewable Energy Directive (Article 15). GOs are electronic certificates issued to renewable energy producers for every 1 MWh of energy produced. Collaboration over the last fifteen years between national regulators, market players, stakeholders and consumers has resulted in a robust and reliable GO system.
The European market for renewable energy, documented with GOs, increased by 26.5% in 2014 compared to 2013. GOs account for nearly one tenth of all electricity demand in Europe (approximately 3,300 TWh) and one third of all electricity from renewable sources in Europe (approximately 900 TWh).
In some countries, such as Germany, a high share of renewable production is not issued with a GO due to legislation that prevents feed-in tariff supported electricity from receiving GOs. Nevertheless, data concerning this electricity (‘supported electricity’), which grew in volume Europe-wide by 12.5% to 216 TWH between 2014-2015, can be easily included in national dual reporting requirements.
Transparency for consumers choosing green electricity
If applied Europe-wide, dual reporting would bring much greater clarity to the information available to those consumers – both household and corporate – who are actively choosing green in ever greater numbers, as well as to policy makers.
“We believe that greater transparency will stimulate renewable energy production because it will become clearer and clearer how great the demand really is,” says Braslawsky. “It’s not too late to include a dual reporting obligation – for production and consumption – in the new renewable energy directive.”
“It’s a relatively small action that is completely in line with EU ambitions to empower the consumer. Most importantly it would acknowledge the businesses and citizens who are really in the driver’s seat,” he adds.
On 21-22 March 2017, the RECs Market Meeting will focus on the demand side of the renewable electricity market. The conference covers a wide variety of aspects related to renewable markets. This includes policy, the effect of consumer choice, market aspects such as prices, volumes and availability as well as end-user claims following procurement of renewable energy. For more information, see www.recmarket.eu.The conference is organized by RECS International.