In 2015, the World Resources Institute (WRI) unveiled new guidance for Scope 2 emissions accounting within the Greenhouse Gas Protocol Corporate Standard. This update introduced a market-based accounting mechanism that gives companies the opportunity to reduce their Scope 2 emissions through the purchase of renewable energy certificates, PPAs, etc. This provision has driven a new focus on global energy purchasing, with more organizations looking for options across the globe.
The Guarantee of Origin is a voluntary renewable energy product, currently available within 20 European countries. Similar to a REC in the U.S., a GO represents the environmental attributes (but not the power) associated with renewable energy.
A GO represents one megawatt hour of electricity from a renewable resource. The European Energy Certificate System (EECS) certifies and registers each GO, preventing double counting and identifying the source of the GO and the method of production. GOs , include a wider set of technologies than US RECs do, including hydropower, biomass, and combined heat and power (CHP).
GO certificates are viable for 12 months from the date of issue.
The European voluntary market is well defined with clear norms of transparency and accountability. However, there are some complexities to the market that are important to understand. Although the EECS system creates rules around the creation and transfer of GOs, there are some country specific rules that can impact customers, specifically around project eligibility and GO retirement.
Note: As of September 2017, Lithuania and Greece are in the process of applying to participate. Portugal and Britain are in active discussions.