What are you buying when you ask for “green” power?

INCREASING awareness of declining traditional energy sources and rising greenhouse emissions coupled with the Government’s recent ratification of the Kyoto Protocol are driving consumer and business demand for energy retailers to offer renewable energy products.

INCREASING awareness of declining traditional energy sources and rising greenhouse emissions coupled with the Government’s recent ratification of the Kyoto Protocol are driving consumer and business demand for energy retailers to offer renewable energy products.

Up until now, higher costs and uncertainty about the future of carbon trading have been deterrents to the uptake of renewable or “green” energy by domestic consumers and business.

There is also a lack of understanding in the market of how renewable energy, which contributes to the Australian Government’s Mandatory Renewable Energy Target (MRET), differs from Accredited GreenPower. Under the Commonwealth Renewable Energy (Electricity) Act 2000, liable parties, which include electricity retailers and wholesale purchasers, are required to contribute to investment in generation of energy from renewable sources. This contribution is in the form of surrendered Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) in proportion to the volume of their electricity acquisitions.

Purchases of GreenPower contribute to the investment in renewable energy beyond the government regulations outlined in the MRET.

Developed in consultation with a number of environmental groups and the energy industry, the New South Wales Government established the GreenPower Accreditation Program in 1997. The audited national program applies stringent environmental and reporting standards to the supply of renewable energy.

Accredited renewable energy is currently sourced from wind, solar, hydro and biomass generation facilities, which the GreenPower initiative stipulates must be built after 1997 to be eligible for program inclusion. It is important to note that green energy products sold without the GreenPower accreditation do not contribute to further investment in renewable energy.

Momentum Energy provides the option to customers to offset anywhere between one per cent and 100 per cent of their energy usage through the purchase of GreenPower. Essentially when electricity retailers offer GreenPower they will charge the customer an additional set cost per mega watt hour to acquire renewable energy from an accredited source on the customer’s behalf. Although this power is then fed into the National Electricity Grid, it does mean the customer is directly contributing to the generation of new renewable energy.

GreenPower customers can also leverage their investment by communicating their commitment to sustainable business practices with the GreenPower logo. Businesses, councils and Government agencies are eligible to use the GreenPower logo on marketing material if their investment in the purchase of GreenPower meets minimum requirements, as set out by the GreenPower Accreditation Program.

Momentum Energy urges customers to look at their energy usage holistically, to not only off-set their greenhouse emissions, but also to cut down their consumption, and challenges them to consider the numerous energy reduction methods and energy efficient equipment which can minimise their business’ carbon footprint.

Increased take-up of GreenPower will undoubtedly increase the demand for new research and the construction of renewable energy generation, which will decrease our dependence on coal-fired power stations.

A key tool, and an important first step, for managers in moving towards a sustainable company is an energy audit. Such audits can identify where consumption can be reduced through implementing best practice initiatives and/or the introduction of energy efficient technology, making them a valuable investment.

Nearly two million customers purchase renewable energy worldwide, whilst the average market penetration is only one per cent, some European countries have seen more success with penetration between 5 per cent and 15 per cent.