Where it comes from, what does it do, and how to get it.
In December 2015, 195 countries came together to address climate change. It resulted in the Paris Agreement, a landmark international accord to address climate change to limit the global temperature increase in this century by two degrees. It marked a historic turning point for global climate action, signed by nearly every nation on earth.
Sticking to the commitment towards the Paris Agreement, Singapore charted its own sustainability roadmap, which is called the Singapore Green Plan. It outlines concrete steps taken to achieve net-zero emissions and a more sustainable future.
One of the main focuses of the Singapore Green Plan is the shift towards cleaner sources of energy to lower our carbon footprint. This can be achieved by transitioning towards renewable electricity.
But what is renewable electricity, and how does it work? In this article, we will cover and explain the concept of renewable electricity in the simplest way possible.
How electricity is generated
To understand renewable electricity, we have to go to the very beginning of the generation process. There are various ways to generate electricity. We can classify it into three major categories.
- Fossil fuel
Electricity is produced by burning natural resources, such as coal, gas, and oil. These resources are non-renewable, meaning they cannot be replenished fast enough at the speed at which they are consumed. These resources accumulate carbon in their creation. When burned, carbon is released into the air as greenhouse gas emissions, which traps heat and causes global warming.
Electricity is produced using nuclear reactions. The vast majority of nuclear power is produced by nuclear fission, the process of splitting a large atomic nucleus into smaller nuclei that releases a large amount of energy. Nuclear energy does not produce any carbon emissions, but the use of nuclear energy itself is highly debated, especially in regards to its safety.
Electricity is produced by harvesting energy from renewable sources, such as using wind turbines to capture wind power. Wind power is renewable because the supply replenishes naturally and is infinite. In addition, renewable electricity does not produce any carbon emissions; therefore, it is also known as clean electricity. The three most common renewable source in the world is hydropower, solar, and wind.
The power travels through the grid
All electricity that’s generated from the generator travels through the grid. The grid connects the generators and the buildings that consume electricity.
All form of electricity is inherently the same, regardless of how it is generated. Once it reaches the grid, renewable electricity is indistinguishable from the non-renewables. The grid is a melting pot of various types of electricity.
You can’t be sure that a particular solar farm powers your house or office unless it is connected to a separate grid powered solely by that solar farm.
The whole of Singapore is connected to the national grid, which is also known as SP Power Grid. So, there is no way to distinguish electricity from renewable sources such as solar, wind, and hydro from their non-renewable counterpart.
So, what is the deal with green electricity?
Even though you can’t distinguish the electricity source, you can verify and certify that you consume green electricity using Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs).
RECs are green energy attributes that represent units of electricity generated from a renewable energy generator. It allows you to claim the ownership and usage of a specific unit of renewable electricity.
How Renewable Energy Certificates work
1 REC is issued to the generator every time they produce one (1) megawatt-hour of electricity. In Singapore, RECs are issued by the SP Group.
To receive RECs, every renewable energy generator must register its production device with the REC issuer. One of the widely used standards for issuing REC is the International-REC (I-REC) Standard. It is a well-established standard for markets outside of North America & Europe with a presence in over 30 countries.
Once the registration has been successful, the generators can submit meter readings to the issuer. After this is verified by a third party, the generator will receive a Renewable Energy Certificate for every megawatt-hour of renewable energy they supply to the grid.
Each certificate is uniquely numbered and contains a specific location, source, production year for each megawatt-hour of electricity. RECs are used as accounting, tracking and assigning ownership mechanisms for green energy as they flow into the power grid.
The RECs that the generator receives are put up for sale in a registry. Electricity retailers, brokers, or end consumers can purchase these RECs.
To claim the green attribute of REC, it has to be redeemed. Once REC has been redeemed, it is retired from the registry. Therefore, it can’t be sold or exchanged anymore, and no one else can claim that particular unit of renewable electricity. This process ensures no double-counting, so the green electricity claim is accountable, fair and square for everyone.
For example, suppose you purchase 1 REC from solar power generated in Singapore. When you redeem that REC, you can claim that you have used 1 megawatt-hour of renewable electricity generated from solar power in Singapore. That particular megawatt-hour cannot be claimed by anyone else.
At Flo, we purchase RECs equivalent to the amount of electricity we supply, so all of our supply comes from 100% renewable sources. We also redeem them on behalf of our members, so they don’t need to worry about it.
We update our members quarterly on their renewable energy consumption, including the amount, type, and origin. With this information, our members can claim that their premise is powered by 100% renewable energy.
What can RECs be used for?
You can use RECs to claim that your home and business are powered by renewable energy.
You can also use it for compliance reasons and certifications. REC is recognised by many certification bodies worldwide, such as RE100, BREEAM, LEED, or Singapore’s very own BCA Green Mark, and many more. You can use RECs to attain credits towards a certain certification.
To sum it up
Renewable electricity is generated from renewable resources that are zero-carbon and environmentally friendly. The use of renewable electricity is verified through the purchase and redemption of Renewable Energy Certificates, which is a green energy attribute that is recognised by certification bodies worldwide. At Flo, we do all this for you, so you can sit back and enjoy the clean energy 😉