Month: November 2020

GOs and I-RECs: Tools for Addressing Global Scope 2 Emissions

GOs and I-RECs

As your organization works to reduce its international energy footprint (Scope 2 emissions) to meet corporate renewable energy goals, you need all the data and resources necessary to move the needle and fast.

Our I-RECs and GOs infographic illustrates the similarities and differences of these instruments and provides the quick resource you need to take action to address your organization’s environmental impact.

Want more information? Take a look at our RECs and Global Equivalents page, or Contact us.


Voluntary renewable energy can help utilities reach 100% clean targets faster


There’s a groundswell of utilities across the U.S. pursuing decarbonization targets. Seventeen large investor-owned utilities have now pledged to reach 100% clean electricity or net-zero emissions, on timelines of 30, 20, and even just 15 years from now. While this clean energy transformation is essential in the fight against climate change, it also represents an unprecedented challenge to the energy industry. Utilities are fundamentally shifting their business models, changing the nature of energy generation, storage, and delivery, and they’re on a deadline. Simply put, we’re embarking on what Deloitte recently called “an energy transition like no other.”

To be successful in the shift to a clean energy future, utility leaders need to be resourceful, taking an all-hands-on-deck approach and using every tool in their toolbox to its fullest extent in order to reach these ambitious targets.

One such tool is the voluntary renewable energy market, which has growing potential to help utilities decarbonize faster, and to do it in partnership with their customers.

Sustained growth in the voluntary renewable energy market

The voluntary market for renewable energy has grown steadily since it first emerged in the early 2000s. According to NREL’s annual reports, the overall voluntary renewable energy market has grown around 20 percent annually the last few years, and shows no signs of slowing. The portion of that market served by vertically integrated utilities has grown steadily too, as utilities have seen the value of offering renewable energy options to meet residential and commercial customer demand. And new utility program types continue to emerge and add capacity. Notably, there’s been significant growth recently spurring from the emergence of green tariffs. Total installed capacity serving green tariffs has grown at least 43% since 2018, according to June 2020 data from REBA.

Leading utilities in this space — those who offer high quality renewable programs across their customer segments — are seeing their voluntary renewable energy programs contribute five percent and even upwards of 10 percent of their total retail sales. As these programs contribute more to utilities’ total energy sales, executive leadership can begin to see voluntary renewable energy as a powerful tool in their decarbonization strategy.

Of course, utility voluntary renewable programs won’t deliver significant returns on carbon reduction targets unless they are thoughtfully designed and built to scale. The voluntary market’s contribution to utility targets will depend on the structure and magnitude of the utility’s overall decarbonization goal, as well as on the design of the voluntary programs themselves. But with an intentional approach, voluntary renewable energy programs can and should help advance a utility’s clean electricity and decarbonization goals.

Rethinking the voluntary market’s contribution to utility decarbonization

Using the voluntary market to advance utility decarbonization goals is a significant shift in the way these programs were historically designed and tracked. In the past, voluntary renewable energy programs were held separate from utility renewable energy targets. Renewable portfolio standards representing 10 or 20 percent of a utility’s overall mix were the primary driver for clean energy. And the simplest way to prevent cross-subsidization between legislated renewable energy requirements and voluntary programs was to treat the programs as entirely separate.

But utilities are in a new era today. Mandated targets are increasingly approaching 100 percent, and many more utilities are setting similarly ambitious targets on their own.

As the stakes for decarbonization get higher, it’s both strategic and appropriate for the interaction between voluntary programs and utility targets to evolve. Policymakers are increasingly recognizing the role the voluntary market can play in a state’s path to achieving 100 percent clean energy, even explicitly carving out space for it. Similar thinking on the value of the voluntary market has led to creative program design that complements utility targets in many contexts. Utilities’ urgent need to decarbonize, coupled with the voluntary market’s growth, makes a compelling case for utility leaders to integrate their voluntary renewable energy programs into their clean energy plans.

So, what’s the best approach? There are multiple pathways for utilities with decarbonization targets to responsibly incorporate voluntary renewable energy programs into their plans, and they vary based on several factors, including the nature of the utility’s target, customer preferences, and program design requirements.

The team at 3Degrees is digging in, working on an in-depth report to help utilities align their voluntary programs to their clean energy targets. Sign up for our quarterly newsletter and we’ll send you the full white paper, Voluntary Renewable Energy Programs & Utility Decarbonization Targets, when it’s published later this year.

This article was originally published on Utility Dive.

First-ever Peace REC
(P-REC) transaction drives renewable energy development in Africa

Solar farm in rural Africa


Nuru Solar Project photos


  • Microsoft purchased P-RECs issued by Energy Peace Partners from Congolese solar developer Nuru’s newly commissioned 1.3MW commercial solar-plus-storage project in Goma, DRC.
  • The P-REC purchase helped Nuru fund the recently completed construction of 35 mini-grid-connected streetlights in the Ndosho neighborhood of Goma.
  • The streetlights: Improve quality of life with better nighttime visibility and road safety, and enhance neighborhood security; Support the local economy by allowing businesses to stay open at night; Improve air quality by reducing reliance on diesel generators, which are both expensive and highly polluting.
  • This transaction unlocks a new renewable energy attribute option that other organizations can now leverage to drive renewable projects in underserved communities around the globe.

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Microsoft has long been a leader in corporate sustainability. As part of its commitment to be carbon negative by 2030, Microsoft has pledged to have its operations run with 100% renewable electricity by 2025. The company has developed business models that further the transition to renewable energy, and it seeks opportunities to invest in high impact renewable energy products and stimulate development in under-resourced communities and regions of the world.

3Degrees had been in discussions with Energy Peace Partners (EPP) since 2017, exploring ways in which the two organizations could work together to help operationalize a new and innovative instrument developed by EPP, Peace Renewable Energy Credits (P-RECs).

So when Microsoft issued an RFP specifically geared to driving the adoption of renewables and maximizing associated environmental impacts, 3Degrees included P-RECs in the RFP response. The inaugural corporate purchase of P-RECs tests a new business model for the deployment of renewables in new geographies.

what is a P-Rec info sidebar

Creating a New Instrument for Renewable Energy Sourcing

In making this first-of-its-kind transaction a reality, there were some unique challenges that needed to be addressed.

  • Because P-RECs are an entirely new instrument, there was little guidance on how they would fit into existing corporate sustainability reporting frameworks, including CDP and RE100.
  • The P-REC pilot project is a 1.3 MW ground-mounted solar installation connected to a 520 kW/2.2 MWh battery energy storage system that introduces new electrification to the neighborhood of Ndosho in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) where no electrical grid infrastructure has previously existed. Like many developing nations in sub-Saharan Africa, DRC lacks widespread electrical interconnection, and this plant is not interconnected to other grids beyond Ndosho.

“With P-RECs, companies like Microsoft that are looking to procure renewable energy can invest in regions that are the most impacted by climate change and that are currently deprived of access to modern energy. Companies can maximize the impact of their investments not only from a carbon reduction perspective, but also from a climate equity perspective.”

– Vanessa Miler, Director, Energy Innovation and Impact, Microsoft

Photo courtesy of Nuru

How We Helped

3Degrees, Energy Peace Partners, and project developer Nuru worked collaboratively to create the framework for scalable and accountable corporate sourcing. 3Degrees was key to this success by:

  • Developing contractual mechanisms to implement project milestones to mitigate risks that could arise from unexpected issues related to construction of the solar plant and installation of the streetlights. This provided all parties with enough assurances to move forward and make this first-of-its-kind transaction a reality.
  • Seeking guidance from leading renewable energy and GHG reporting initiatives to understand how these platforms could accommodate this new and unique instrument.
  • Continuing to advocate for standardized guidance on how to report EACs that differ from standard renewable energy usage claims but do directly support market development in regions with limited electrical grid interconnection and renewable energy procurement options. The development of P-RECs has encouraged RE100 to consider P-RECs in the context of flexibility mechanisms for regions like sub-Saharan Africa, although no new guidance has yet been issued.

“We developed the P-REC in order to support new renewable energy projects in fragile, energy poor regions of the world. With this inaugural P-REC purchase, Microsoft is demonstrating that corporate renewable energy procurement can be high impact by making a difference in communities like Ndosho, where increased access to sustainable and affordable power will be transformative. Energy Peace Partners is proud of this groundbreaking collaboration with Microsoft, 3Degrees, and Nuru.”

– David Mozersky, President, Energy Peace Partners

P-REC Project profile

The Nuru solar energy project

Photo courtesy of Nuru

The P-RECs for Microsoft’s transaction will be issued by Energy Peace Partners (EPP) and associated with Congolese solar developer Nuru’s newly commissioned 1.3MW commercial solar-plus-storage plant in Goma, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, where less than 3% of residents have access to electricity. The system is one of sub-Saharan Africa’s largest solar-plus-storage off-grid mini-grids currently in operation and will provide power to more than 700 households and anchor enterprise clients.

Microsoft’s P-REC purchase assisted Nuru (which means light in Swahili) to fund the construction of mini-grid-connected streetlights in the Ndosho neighborhood of Goma, a community impact project co-designed with local stakeholders. The streetlights are improving night time safety and security in the community, allowing businesses to stay open at night, reducing reliance on diesel generators, and expanding renewable energy capacity in an area that has never had grid infrastructure.

Read more: Nuru Solar Energy Project Profile

Darigold invests in long-term sustainable agriculture (video)

Darigold Carbon Offset Project

Darigold and the Northwest Dairy Association (NDA), have led the industry in environmental stewardship for years. In 2018, Darigold won the Community Impact Award for Sustainability from the Seattle Business Magazine. To build on this progress, Royal Dairy (a member of NDA) invested in a BioFiltro vermicomposting system which prevents the release of 34,000 tons of CO2-equivalent from their farm’s manure management lagoon.

Watch this video learn more about this innovative carbon reduction technology.



Viable Tools for Transportation Decarbonization (webinar)

Webinar banner viable tools for transportation decarbonization

In 2016, transportation surpassed the power sector as the largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the U.S. Fortunately, meaningful pathways to reduce transportation emissions are taking hold. 

In this webinar that took place on November 10th, we took a look at the various tools organizations are employing to decarbonize the transportation sector including low carbon fuel transition, fleet electrification, market-based incentive programs, and verified emission reductions.

View the webinar

Nuru Solar Energy Project


Solar grid in DRC generates first-ever Peace Renewable Energy Credits (P-RECS)

The regions of the world most affected by crises tend to be those most vulnerable to climate change, and are largely excluded from climate finance flows and related investment. In addition, conflict-affected communities tend to experience high levels of energy poverty, and face issues like hunger, malnutrition and lack of basic human necessities. The effects of climate change are global, and fragile states, which have contributed least, should not have to bear these burdens alone.

Peace Renewable Energy Credits (P-RECs) have the potential to expand the renewable energy revolution to vulnerable regions, improve quality of life, and create economic opportunities. A P-REC is an International Renewable Energy Credit (I-REC) with an additional certification by Energy Peace Partners (EPP) of the social and economic co-benefits associated with the project.

In February 2020, the first sale of P-RECS delivered new funding in Goma, a region in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. These P-RECs were issued from a 1.3MW solar mini-grid constructed by Congolese solar developer Nuru. Revenue from this transaction was used to finance the installation of 35 streetlights along the mini-grid.


The DRC has one of the lowest rates of electrification and energy consumption in the world. Congolese citizens do not have an interconnected national grid. Hydropower is the country’s primary source of electricity, but it meets only one-third of the 3GW in unmet and growing demand. This project is one of Africa’s largest off-grid solar mini-grids.

The solar project is expected to serve over 750 households and small to medium-sized businesses. The sale of the first 1,000 P-RECs funded the first of three phases of street light installations.

Developer Nuru has used 100% of P-REC revenue to install public street lights in Goma’s Ndosho neighborhood. Prior to installation, the community identified the lack of streetlights as one of its top priorities.

As of March 20, 2020 an estimated 28,000 people – more than a third of Ndosho population – are seeing tangible improvements from the first stage of this project. With the continued sale of P-RECs, the second and third stage are planned to extend street lights across the entire neighborhood.



+ The solar array and connected street lights in Ndosho have reduced the need for carbon intensive diesel generators; this has a direct climate mitigation impact by reducing local air pollution and decreasing carbon emissions.


+ P-REC revenue provides the capital necessary to unlock project funding.

+ The street lights support the operation of night markets and enable businesses to stay open later, both of which have strong, positive impacts on the local community and economy.

+ The construction and maintenance of the solar array, batteries, and street lights have created, and will sustain, quality local jobs.

Health & Safety:

+ More reliable access to electricity and reduced reliance on diesel generators will have a positive impact on human health in Goma.

+ Improving community lighting at night increases safety and security in densely populated areas where crime incidents have previously caused insecurity for residents and businesses.


Photos courtesy of Nuru

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View other project profiles or contact us.