What is new RE
What is "new" renewable energy? Why does it matter?
We are concerned with whether the project is new because our customers are paying to change the makeup of the power pool, not just ratify what's already there. If you pay an environmental premium, there should to be an added environmental benefit. We believe your money should be spent to support projects that were either built recently in anticipation of the demand for green power, or for projects that will be built soon. The environmental community has chosen to simplify this process by setting a date. Generally the environmental community regards a renewable energy a project placed into service from 1999 on as "new".
Sometimes energy can come from a renewable source and may not be considered "green." For example, some hydroelectric dams have been very damaging to fish runs. A wind project, badly sited, can have serious impacts on sensitive bird species. GMA looks at the technology and fuel, and also at the siting and operation of a project. GMA will only market Green Tags that meet our standards and those of our partner environmental organizations.If you are considering buying green power or green tags elsewhere, you should ask whether there will be an environmental gain resulting from your purchase, or whether it will simply be added profit for a project that would have been built and operated anyway.
What is the importance of “additionality”?
Lots of things reduce CO2 emissions, and would regardless of the existence of the market for CO2 offsets. Nuclear power plant upgrades, new natural gas plants, money saving efficiency measures and no-till agriculture, all reduce CO2 emissions, but those things often are done for reasons other than reducing CO2 and would be done regardless of the availability of revenues for the CO2 reductions.
The job for the voluntary CO2 market is to reduce CO2 emissions above and beyond what would have happened anyway. That’s why a CO2 offset has to be generated by a project that meets two tests – it must have been implemented to reduce CO2 emissions, and it must be a project that would not have been implemented without the opportunity to receive revenues for the CO2 reductions. It’s a matter of letting what’s going to happen anyway happen anyway, and using the limited resources of the voluntary CO2 offset market help build projects that can’t happen without those resources being available.
For our premium “help build” RECs and offsets, we focus on projects that need even more than the “opportunity” to receive revenues for the CO2 reductions – an opportunity that carries some risks, like not enough buyers. We focus on projects that need those revenues under contract on a long-term basis. The more customers we have, the more contracts we can sign that will get more projects to the finish line.