Stein Amble Haugan, Director Corporate Customers at ECOHZ, works closely with global companies to find and provide the best renewable energy solutions for their operations. In this interview, we discuss how he works with customers and how ECOHZ is developing best practice for I-RECs.
When are I-RECs a good renewable energy solution for a corporate customer?
If you operate outside Europe and North America, and you want to document and report that your electricity consumption comes from renewable energy sources, International REC Standard is the best solution. It is a global standard being introduced in a growing number of countries where no similar scheme exists. It builds on best practice from the North American RECs market and Europe’s Guarantees of Origin system. And it is an effective and recognised tool for documenting zero emission electricity consumption for your operations. The International REC Standard is complimentary and not competitive – meaning it will only be available in countries where there is no other marketbased tracking system. Two good examples are Japan and Australia, they have their own national tracking system, so I-RECs will not be used in these countries.
Can you walk us through the process of how a company would buy I-RECs?
When a customer comes to us and wants to find the best renewable energy solution, or already has decided to buy I-RECs, the first stage is to go through the client’s global portfolio to find out where they have operations. We then look for renewable energy plants with certain technologies or a specific size and assure that the power plant is grid connected to the company’s operations in that country and/or region.
ECOHZ will not source I-RECs from projects that already offer carbon offsets for the same MWh thus avoiding any discussions around double counting. The only attributes from the power plant we source are I-RECs.
We also avoid sourcing I-RECs from big hydro power plants with poor CO2 performance, or power plants that have negative social impact, for example displacing villages and people because of the project. The power plant needs to not only provide renewable energy but also be sustainable in its surroundings.
Once we have the right power plant, we then find the right amount of I-RECs from renewable energy production to match the company’s consumption requirements. We set up their account, acquire the I-RECs, cancel the corresponding certificates and document the company’s renewable energy consumption.
What happens if the power plant you find isn’t I-REC registered?
Sometimes the power plant we find is not in an approved region or country, or the power plant itself is not verified. Then we need to go through the process to get it registered. ECOHZ and the producer compile a report for the I-REC Board, detailing the electrical interconnections and import/export requirements, market structure and existing/planned energy legislation, as well as other relevant information. The I-REC Board reviews and approves the report, which typically takes anything from a few weeks to a few months, depending on the complexity. Then, to register the renewable energy power plant and getting it approved for I-REC issuance, a third party will verify that the electricity is being delivered to the grid. Once a country is approved by the I-REC Board, and the power plant is registered in the I-REC Registry, we can ensure 100% renewable energy procurement for our client.
So what is best practice for I-REC sourcing?
The I-REC Standard is modelled on the European GO system, as well as the North American REC system. For ECOHZ and many of our customers it’s important that the renewable energy produced which is tracked and documented with I-RECs is grid connected to their operations in that country and/or region. Because of this, we consider the following geographical areas as I-REC regions, but the number of countries is growing:
- Israel & Jordan
- The Gulf region
- Africa – North
- Africa – South
- Mainland Southeast Asia
- The Philippines
- India, Bangladesh, Nepal
- China & Taiwan
- Central America
- South America (Brazil – Paraguay- Uruguay – Argentina – Chile)
- South America (Colombia – Venezuela – Ecuador)
What has been the most exciting part of working with I-RECs so far?
One year ago, our corporate customers could only purchase and document renewable energy with I-RECs in a few countries. Due to large and increasing corporate demand, the number of countries and regions where I-RECs are available today has expanded significantly.
What drives me, and what is exciting about I-RECs, is that we are helping companies find tangible ways to deliver on their promises. The goal of consuming only renewable energy by 2020 – a goal for many RE100 companies – is an ambitious one, but now I-RECs are part of the solution. That’s encouraging!