Regardless of the source of the power, when electricity reaches you it functions in the same way to charge your EV, power your coffee maker, or run your air conditioner. However, if you live in the United States, part of this power comes from fossil fuels and part from renewable sources. Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) help identify and track clean power sources and support the renewable energy market. If RECs did not exist, it would be difficult to know if you’re using renewable electricity. Let’s first investigate what renewable energy means and then discuss why Renewable Energy Certificates work and why they matter.
Where does electricity come from?
Renewable energy is energy from a source that is not depleted when used, unlike fossil fuels which are in limited supply. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the majority of electricity in the U.S. is still produced from fossil fuels. The electricity generation breakdown in the United State is as follows:
- 61% fossil fuels such as coal, natural gas, petroleum, and other gases
- 19% nuclear energy
- 20% from renewable energy sources such as wind, hydropower, and solar
What are the benefits of renewable energy?
There are environmental, economic, and health benefits from using renewable energy instead of fossil fuels.
- Renewable energy produces no greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. GHG emissions are largely responsible for climate change, which has devastating consequences as we experience more intense hurricanes, increased drought, more heatwaves, heightened flooding, and longer wildfire seasons in some regions.
- Renewable energy reduces air pollution from fossil fuel particulates that provoke health conditions like asthma.
- Using renewable energy diversifies the energy supply and reduces dependence on imported foreign fuels, creating protection from political volatility.
- The development of renewable energy creates jobs in manufacturing, installation and more. (According to Forbes in 2019, nearly 335,000 people work in the solar industry and more than 111,000 work in the wind industry, compared to 211,000 working in coal mining or other fossil fuel extraction.)
How do Renewable Energy Certificates work?
A Renewable Energy Certificate represents a specific amount of renewable energy produced and delivered to the power grid. One REC equals one megawatt hour or 1,000 kilowatt hours. (For reference, according to the Energy Information Administration, the average annual electricity consumption for a U.S. residential utility customer in 2020 was 10,715 kilowatt hours.)
RECS are uniquely numbered and tracked and can be bought and sold on the open market. REC buyers own the power generated through renewable sources, even if they didn’t generate it. Anytime someone claims to use renewable electricity, they must have RECs to back up their claim. RECs are a way to distinguish clean power from fossil fuel power. Once RECs are sold, they are retired in the tracking system to prevent others from claiming they are using green power with that same REC.
Why Do Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) Matter?
Renewable Energy Certificates are the currency of the renewable energy market. With RECs, you can purchase renewable power and help support renewable energy generation. RECs allow consumers without their own wind turbines or solar panels to use renewable electricity and increase the demand for it.
Electricity from many different sources mixes together in the grid, which is the power generation, transmission, and distribution network. When your coffee maker powers on, there is no way to determine the exact source of where that electricity came from without a Renewable Energy Certificate. RECs track the energy source and give the end user assurance that they are using renewable electricity.
Does e-Mission Control purchase Renewable Energy Certificates on behalf of its partners?
Yes! The use of a zero-carbon electricity source for fleet charging by way of purchasing and retiring RECs results in significant additional clean fuel program credit generation. (The purchase of renewable, zero-emission electricity increases the total quantity of credits generated by 25% to 35%.) At current prices, buying and retiring RECs is a great way to both increase your net profits as well as support green initiatives within your company since the costs of purchasing RECs are outweighed by the additional resulting credit generation.
eMC has zero-CI pathways approved with the California Air Resources Board, a required prerequisite to be able to leverage the financial benefits of REC retirement. We manage a zero-CI pathway for all of our partners, resulting in optimized credit generation.
To learn more about Renewable Energy Certificates, watch this 4-minute animated video from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
To learn how e-Mission Control can leverage Renewable Energy Certificates for your business in California, Oregon, or Washington State, contact us today.