Center for Resource Solutions2015: New Pathways for Clean Energy
Letter From the Executive Director
This was an exciting year to be working in renewable energy. Businesses of all sizes took greater ownership over their transitions to clean energy by engaging in long-term power purchase agreements and installing on-site generation. States are meeting (and in some cases increasing) their renewable portfolio standard clean-energy goals. And the federal government is showing strong leadership through both the EPA's Clean Power Plan, which will reduce greenhouse gases from the electricity sector, and a White House Executive Order directing federal agencies to purchase renewable energy.
The voluntary market, which is made up of residential and commercial customers choosing a greener mix of renewable energy, continues to grow across all categories, including utility green pricing programs, competitive electricity suppliers, and renewable electricity certificate (REC) sales. This year we also saw more cities and counties than ever managing their procurement through community choice aggregation programs, which give individual communities the flexibility to choose a greener mix of electricity.
At Center for Resource Solutions (CRS), we follow the renewable energy market's trajectory because we are integral to it. Our Green-e certification programs continue to certify the majority of the North American voluntary market, and 90 percent of retail REC sales. We are frequently called upon to provide assistance to companies looking to power their operations with renewable energy and countries developing their clean energy infrastructure. We run the most important conference of the year for energy buyers, sellers, generators, and policymakers. We publish constantly, and our reports form the basis for policy decisions at the local and national levels. We are expanding our certification options to allow the industry to grow in a way that maintains its integrity and transparency. And we spend every day focused on the belief that there is no more important work than ensuring our clean energy future.
Green-e certified over half of the U.S. voluntary market in 2014.
Installations in Green-e
Over 55% of the installed wind capacity in the U.S. is participating in Green‐e Energy certified transactions.
Green‐e Energy certified sales make up approximately 90% of all retail REC sales in the U.S.
Asked for by name
Leading standards reference Green-e, including LEED, B Corp., and SPLC.
increasing customer base
The overall number of customers purchasing certified products increased 17% in 2014.
Green-e remains the only independent certification program in North America for retail renewable energy and carbon offsets.
The Green-e programs continued to give individuals and organizations the tools and means to increase their use of the renewable energy and reduce carbon emissions, by providing not just consumer protection, but also advocacy, education, and oversight. Together, the three Green-e programs—Green-e Climate, Green-e Energy, and Green-e Marketplace—provide a framework for the private sector to increase its use of renewable energy and reduce its climate impact by increasing the integrity and transparency of existing clean energy markets that operate largely independently from state and federal oversight. Nearly two decades after its creation in 1997, Green-e is certifying the majority of the voluntary renewable energy market in the U.S. and 90 percent of renewable energy certificate (REC) transactions. Its three programs certify a much wider range of options that all consumers and businesses can use to reduce their environmental impacts and drive the transition to a clean energy economy.
Green-e Climate is an international program that certifies carbon offsets sold in the retail market to businesses and individuals looking to reduce the impact of their non-electricity energy use, like heating, driving, and flying. Green-e Climate remains the only certification program ensuring the quality of carbon reductions and accuracy and transparency along the entire chain of custody, from the project to the end consumer.
As reported in the 2014 Green-e Verification Report, which was released on October 18, 2015, sales in 2014 were the second highest since the program was launched in 2008, with a 150% growth from the previous year. Much of the growth was from large, high-profile purchasers, as well as sales for projects applying for certification under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green-building certification, which requires offsets used to earn points under the standard be certified by Green-e Climate (or equivalent). Offsets were sourced from 13 projects in North America, chiefly landfill gas methane capture.
This year Green-e Climate was excited to certify its first product that bundles natural gas with certified carbon offsets, and continues to offer a certification for events that offset their onsite emissions.
Along with the LEED standard as a source for demand for Green-e Climate certified offsets, the program was written into the requirements for the Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council's Guidance v1.0 and referenced in proposed updates to The Climate Registry's General Reporting Protocol.
Green-e Energy is North America's largest certification program for renewable energy products sold to consumers and businesses in the voluntary market. Established in 1997, the program certifies utility green-power programs, renewable energy certificate products, and green electricity programs offered by energy service providers in states that offer consumer choice.
Green-e Energy certified retail sales reached nearly 38 million megawatt-hours (MWh) in 2014, the highest number of certified retail MWh and customers to date. At the end of 2015 there were over 90 participants in the program (plus nearly 300 utility distributors) selling over 130 certified products. The number of customers increased 17% over the previous year, with the largest increase in residential sales.
Green-e currently certifies over half the U.S. voluntary market, which represents over 1% of the total U.S. electricity mix, or enough to power nearly a third of U.S. households for a month. Over 55% of the installed wind capacity in the U.S. is participating in Green‐e Energy certified transactions.
Along with developing a new Green-e Direct option for companies to certify for their onsite generation or power purchase agreement (PPA) transactions, this year we launched a new option for participants selling to Federal agencies that will buy renewable energy to comply with Executive Order 13693, issued by the President in March. This Order requires Federal agencies to reduce their emissions in many ways, including using renewable energy. Sellers in Green-e can offer a product that meets Federal guidelines as well as the Green-e Energy National Standard rules, while providing third-party verification and the corresponding consumer protections and guaranteed environmental benefits.
Green-e Marketplace recognizes organizations that power their operations with renewable energy or use carbon offsets to mitigate the impact of their direct emissions, and provides these companies with marketing and communications tools to demonstrate their commitment to customers and stakeholders.
Throughout the year, Green‐e Marketplace focused on developing a suite of new benefits for participants in the program to help promote their efforts and position themselves as leaders in their market sectors, including sales and marketing kits, communications guides, and collateral materials. The program grew in both numbers of participants and products certified, with nearly 40 companies participating and over 500 products and companies certified.
CRS has deep experience moving seamlessly between public and private sectors to advance a common agenda: making environmental action—specifically, renewable energy—beneficial to a business's bottom line." —Julien Gervreau, Director of Sustainability, Jackson Family Wines
2015 Renewable Energy Markets Conference and Green Power Leadership Awards
Renewable Energy Markets 2015
This year's Renewable Energy Markets (REM) conference served as an important forum for the year's most-discussed topics, from corporate direct purchasing to solar's huge increase in installed base, to the EPA's Clean Power Plan, to changes in renewable energy financing in the post–production tax credit era. Over 400 attendees came to REM 2015, which was held October 18–20 in Washington, D.C., including renewable energy generators, marketers, utility representatives, purchasers, policymakers, and regional stakeholders. This was our largest REM ever, with 27 sessions and nearly 90 speakers. Ninety-four percent of attendees agreed that the conference was "good," "very good," or "excellent". To celebrate the conference's 20th anniversary, we put together a short video that we played to open the conference, "Committing to 100% Clean Energy".
AttendeesOur highest attendance ever.
20th AnniversaryREM began in 1996, when it was called the National Green Power Conference.
SpeakersWe had more speakers and panelists than ever before at REM 2015.
SessionsWe had many different sessions on everything from the EPA Clean Power Plan and direct purchasing to community solar.
There is no better place to connect with the entire renewable market participants and get a policy update from experts to help support our business." —Bill Adams, Director, Sustainability and Technology, Canfor Pulp
2015 Green Power Leadership Awards
CRS and the U.S. EPA present the annual Green Power Leadership Awards at the REM conference to recognize organizations and individuals playing a leadership role in green power market development, purchasing, and supply. The awards recognize outstanding commitments and achievements in the green power marketplace for both individuals and organizations.
CRS gave awards to four organizations and one individual for their role in building and shaping the market for renewable energy over the past year: Apple Inc., the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), and the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) won Green Power Market Development awards. Bonneville Environmental Foundation won an award in Leadership in Green Power Education, and Marty Sedler, Intel's Director of Global Utilities and Infrastructure, won the Green Power Leader of the Year. You can watch the 2015 Green Power Leadership Awards Winner Video that highlights this year's winners.
Policy, Expert Assistance, and Educational Outreach
CRS continually assists lawmakers, regulators, and advocates in developing policy solutions that advance clean energy and reduce carbon emissions. We work at state, national, and international levels to ensure that policy decisions are informed with an understanding of renewable energy markets and promote the continuing growth of clean energy solutions.
This year we provided lawmakers and regulators with critical information on matters impacting renewable energy markets, writing nearly a dozen comments to trade associations, policy organizations, state public utility commissions, and government agencies. Our policy efforts included actions to standardize greenhouse gas accounting, include renewable energy in sustainability standards, account for voluntary purchases in international cap and trade program design, and incentivize the inclusion of renewable energy in green building standards. We worked internationally, supporting the government of Mexico in developing their new renewable energy program.
CRS was also active in dozens of public processes and interactions with other sustainability organizations and government agencies to promote the use of sustainable energy, including CRS's work to support the use of renewable energy to reduce greenhouse gas impacts. We were active in a large number of technical working groups and trade associations to achieve these goals.
CRS also published a number of reports and whitepapers that address the voluntary green power market, transparency and integrity in the voluntary carbon market, best practices for RECs and renewable energy claims, policy developments including the EPA Clean Power Plan, and other best practices and policy recommendations to support the continued development of robust renewable energy markets.
CRS continued its management of the China Sustainable Energy Program, which provides international best practice guidance to Chinese organizations on distributed renewable energy generation, high-penetration renewable energy, wind and solar integration, dispatch order, and energy storage. Separately, team members have completed projects ranging from sources of wind resource and wind forecast data, to a comparison of China's solar PV grid codes to grid codes in Europe, to pumped storage, and the operating flexibility of ultra-high voltage direct current lines.
CRS provides a link between markets and market participants by providing educational materials and forums, including introductory sessions on renewable energy and carbon offsets at the annual Renewable Energy Markets Conference, public educational webinars throughout the year, online videos to increase public understanding of green power markets, and the in-depth resources in the "Learn" section on the CRS website.
CRS brings trusted experience in working with public and private entities to develop standards and best practices for organizational use of renewable energy." —Christina Macken, Director of Programs, Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council
As we continue to focus on expanding our reach throughout North America and internationally, we understand that the landscape that we began 2015 with has changed. The end of this year brought with it a multilateral agreement to curb greenhouse gas emissions—an historic milestone. For the first time, all countries have agreed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in accordance with nationally determined contributions and to revisit and strengthen these commitments moving forward. Developed countries have also agreed to assist developing countries in meeting their goals and building clean energy infrastructure. The decision adopted by the Conference of Parties acknowledges the need to promote universal access to sustainable energy through the enhanced deployment of renewable energy.
In addition, the EPA’s Clean Power Plan will regulate carbon emissions in the electricity sector in the U.S. and create new carbon markets, in which renewable energy will play a significant role. With greater consensus on the path forward, coupled with falling costs and more legislative certainty, the future for renewable energy has never been brighter. We will continue to focus on building sustainable, robust markets for renewable energy that serve the millions of organizations and individuals worldwide that choose clean energy, while assisting global leaders who ensure the projects get built and policy choices have maximum impact. This has been a long road, but 2015 ends with a new beginning.