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What is the Guarantees of Origin market?

Photo of Addison Liandong Wu

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Addison Liandong Wu

Quantitative Analyst

Currently study Business Analytics under M.Sc. in EBA from NHH Norwegian School of Economics, M.Sc. in Economics from BI Norwegian Business School, Master in Management from EDHEC Business School, B.Sc. with Honours in Economics from the University of Nottingham.

Introduction

Increasing awareness about climate change has spurred people to opt for renewable sources for their energy needs. European regulations have put consumers at the core of the energy policy by giving them the means to choose the source of the electricity they consume. However, as producers and consumers respectively inject and withdraw electricity by being connected to a single network, and the generation and consumption of electricity happen instantly with continuous electricity flow, it is impossible to trace electricity from a generator to a specific consumer physically.

For consumer disclosure, it was necessary to establish tools to identify the production location, the time and the source. The Guarantees of Origin (GoOs or GOs) respond to this request.

Performing as an identity of electricity, GoOs provide information to consumers about the origin of the electricity and its associated impact on the environment transparently and reliably. This helps electricity consumers make informed decisions while purchasing their electricity needs.

What is a Guarantee of Origin (GoO)?

A GoO is essentially a certificate issued by the government-mandated issuing bodies to the renewable energy producers that request it. It denotes one MWh of electricity was produced in a particular month and contains relevant information about the power plant such as technology, age, location, subsidy etc. Hence GOs are heterogeneous products differentiated by characteristics including technology, age, location and subsidy, leading to several sub-markets with varying price levels and market liquidity. Cancelling GoOs equivalent to their power consumption allows individuals and businesses alike to consume renewable energy. As a saleable certificate, it can also provide producers with additional remuneration. By subscribing to a green electricity offer, the consumer finances the maintenance or development of means of production that are more respectful of the environment.

GoOs are primarily used by electricity suppliers to demonstrate that renewable electricity is delivered to their end-consumers and by businesses to reduce GHGP (Green House Gas Protocol) Scope 2 emissions.

By promoting more renewable energy sources through the sale of GoOs, the subscription to a green electricity supply ensures developing renewable means of production, thus sustainability. The widespread use of GoOs aids the competitiveness of renewable energies compared to fossil fuels, facilitating the phase-out of the latter.

Greenfact is a market leader in Europe, offering real-time GoO prices, market intelligence, price forecasts and consulting services for the GoO market.

What is the legislation behind GoOs?

GoOs were first introduced in the EU Directive 2001/77/EC, making it mandatory for the Member States to develop a reliable tracking scheme for electricity. GoOs are defined in the directive as: "an electronic document which has the sole function of providing proof to a final customer that a given share or quantity of energy was produced from renewable sources". As intangible products, GOs are separated from the actual physical electricity by design.

The Electricity Market Directive (2009/72/EC) enabled consumers to choose the source of the electricity they want to use along with the associated environmental impact. According to REC (Renewable Energy Directive) II, GoO is the only legal traceability tool in Europe. There is no alternative to claim electricity consumption from a specific power plant.

Moreover, GHG Protocol Scope 2 and CDP recognise GoO as an electricity traceability tool. The former is the accounting guide for the carbon emissions of purchased electricity and heat, which offers an international and transparent standard for reporting emissions and the origin of the electricity consumed. The latter provides a scoring methodology that assesses progress towards the environmental stewardship of companies.

In 2021, under the negotiation of RED III, "Full Disclosure" is brought into the discussion. Considering that consumers must explicitly choose the origin of the electricity used, it could incentivise more end-users to switch to renewable energy consumption.

What is the EECS-GoO market?

The AIB Hub is the central point that enables member registries to inter-communicate and transfer traded certificates (GoOs) under a standardised system, EECS (European Energy Certificate System).

For each member state in the EECS system, its electronic hub must first set up a "Domain Protocol" defining how the EECS rules will be implemented in the country, which has to be approved by the AIB before the issuance, transfer and cancellation of GoOs. Governed by "Domain Protocol", the EECS standard ensures that electricity is tracked reliably and properly accounted for.

The EECS certificate market is a hub designed to facilitate the exchange of certificates EU-wide, where GoOs are traded on a voluntary basis. In total, 26 European states are members of the AIB (23 EU as well as Norway, Switzerland and Iceland) and allow international trade of GoOs between their respective national registries.

What are the prices of GoOs?

The prices of GOs differ based on the country of origin, technology and age of the powerplant. Nordic Hydro represents the most traded GO product and is considered the benchmark price for European GOs. Other GO products typically trade at a premium to Nordic Hydro. Currently, Nordic Hydro GOs of different vintage trade in 60 Eurocents to 2.2 Euros, while Dutch Wind traded in 3 Euros to 3.6 Euros per certificate or MWh. There are also premium GOs with eco-labels such as Naturemade Star, which trade at a premium over ordinary GoOs.

Why do the prices for GoOs vary a lot?

Consumers' different preferences and perceptions of what is environmentally friendly have given rise to a wide variety of heterogeneous GoO products based on characteristics such as technology, plant location and age, production time. Many consumers prefer GoO products from specific renewable technologies and/or electricity from local renewable plants. For instance, Dutch consumers prefer GoOs from local Dutch production (e.g., Solar and Wind GoOs) over other countries.

Moreover, shocks such as unpredictable weather and market sentiments also lead to more market fluctuations. For example, due to the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011, the rising interest in green power led to an increasing GOs cancellation volume of 245 TWh, especially from Germany, which also started a nuclear phase-out policy. In 2018, caused by the drought and hot summer, Nordic Hydro reached the record price of 1.96€/MWh for the first time.

How are GoOs traded?

In the wholesale market, GOs are predominantly traded through brokerages such as Cleanworld and ICAP, which facilitate transactions between power producers and electricity suppliers. Other popular ways to trade are via portfolio management companies, trading houses and bilaterally between producers and retail power companies. Portfolio management companies, such as ECOHZ and Kinect, manage substantial volumes of GOs on behalf of small and medium-sized power producers. These companies act as counterparties to both sellers and buyers, aiming to create value by optimising their client's renewable energy strategies. Trading houses such as Axpo and STX aim to create value by taking a speculative position in the GO market. All retail consumers and most businesses buy GOs from their retail power supplier, while some large companies purchase GOs directly in the wholesale market or through Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs).

Why is the Guarantees of Origin market important?

The EECS-GO market has grown by an annual average growth rate of 23% since 2012 due to increasing environmental awareness in Europe. Last year, 540 million GOs (transaction side) were cancelled in 20 European countries that are part of the AIB, equivalent to around 50% of total renewable electricity generation in the European Union. With the increasing demand for green electricity from households and businesses (through initiatives like RE100, UN Global Compact) the GO market will continue to grow in importance.

Summary

A Guarantees of Origin (GOs or GoOs) denotes one MWh of electricity was produced in a particular month and contains relevant information about the power plant. The EECS-GO market has grown significantly and is projected to grow due to increasing environmental awareness in Europe.GOs are heterogeneous products that are difficult to standardise and therefore not traded on exchanges. The wholesale market for GOs is an OTC (over-the-counter) market with large volumes traded via brokers. Greenfact is the only market intelligence company in Europe that provides price transparency, analyses and consultation for the green wholesale markets. Teaming up with the largest broker house for renewable energy certificates makes it possible for Greenfact to offer insights into several of the European GO sub-markets.

If you would like to get trial access to our market analysis and price platform, please contact us via info@greenfact.com. You may also book a meeting with us to discuss the latest trends in the Guarantees of Origin markets. We are present at Eworld (trading floor) and RECs market meeting.

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