UK businesses can gain all green credentials with 100% renewable electricity

A renewable energy product linked to a guarantee of origin (REGO) has been launched by SSE.
Published: Mon 16 May 2016

With growing pressures from governments to cut greenhouse gas emissions, electricity users, especially large users, are increasingly looking to renewable energies.

In the UK since October 2013, it has been mandatory for FTSE 100 companies to report their GHG emissions in their annual reports. Under the latest amendment to the GHG Protocol Corporate Standard, Scope 2 Guidance, which was introduced in January 2015, organizations are required to report their GHG emissions according to a location-based or market-based method. Consequently, carbon management has become an increasing focus for them and they are increasingly demanding information about the sources of their energy.

The location-based method reflects the average emissions intensity of grids on which energy consumption occurs (using mostly grid-average emission factor data). The market-based method reflects emissions from electricity that companies have purposefully chosen (or their lack of choice).

Renewable guarantee of origin

A Renewable Energy Guarantees of Origin (REGO) scheme is a requirement of member states of the European Union and was introduced over a decade ago to promote and increase the contribution of renewable energy sources to electricity production across the region.

The latest REGO product to come to market is from the UK supplier SSE, which has introduced ‘SSE Green’ as a 100% renewable energy product that allows businesses to report zero emissions under Scope 2 for their purchased electricity.

SSE’s REGOs certify that the purchased electricity has been generated exclusively through a portfolio of wind and hydro assets. (Biomass assets are included currently but will be excluded from October.)

“We are delighted to offer this new contract to business customers which allows them to demonstrate their commitment to renewable and sustainable goals, as well as enhancing their environmental reputation and commitment to customers and other stakeholders,” commented Terry Tippell, SSE’s director of Business Energy. “Equally, large organizations can benefit greatly by being able to report zero emissions for their purchased electricity.”

SSE will supply renewables from its own generation sources, as well as from other wind and hydro generators. SSE has over 2,500MW of onshore and offshore wind and hydro assets in operation and a further 400MW of onshore wind currently in construction.

In the UK the REGO scheme is administered by Ofgem. One REGO is issued for each megawatt hour of renewable electricity generated.

100% renewables

The preferred options for companies to source renewable energies are power purchase agreements with suppliers, and in the case of very large companies such as Google, investment in and delivery from their own generation facilities, a 2015 survey by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development found.

Guarantee of Origin schemes supplement these in expanding the range of renewable options and the capacity that can be supplied. As such they are likely to fast grow in popularity and scope as individuals, businesses and towns look to achieve 100% renewable generation and as trading expands across geographic boundaries. [Engerati-Put 100% Renewables On The Agenda]

They are also being used to stimulate national economic development. In Norway, for example, where the majority of electricity comes from hydropower, Energy Norway is proposing to use REGOs to stimulate the establishment of more data centres through giving these energy intensive operations a competitive edge.

“Our experience working with leading international IT and data centre companies is that availability of widely accepted and transparent documentation of energy claims is very much a hygiene factor,2 says Tom Lindberg, MD of ECOHZ. “Guarantees of Origin coupled with access to “local and short-travelled” renewable power is an attractive solution.”

Norway has data centre projects in over 30 locations and a similar and growing number of other locations have been identified that could host additional centres.

Further reading

Energy Norway: Locations for Data center enterprises (DCE) in Norway