With minor exceptions, energy attribute certificates or
EACs should be the go-to instrument by which businesses claim the use of renewable electricity based on clear evidence. Whether you procure your EACs through a power purchase agreement (PPA), a green tariff, or unbundled from the underlying electricity generation, your organisation will need EACs to make a credible claim.
But it's not as simple as just buying EACs. There are international standards, usage criteria, and other nuances to take into account. This post will help you make sense of these different elements and set you up to buy EACs credibly and effectively.
EACs are the worldwide instrument for reducing electricity-related scope 2 emissions
A single EAC represents the environmental attribute of one MWh (megawatt-hour) of electricity. An EAC can be sold together with the electricity ("bundled"), or separate from the underlying electricity ("unbundled"). As a globally engaged climate solutions company, South Pole can provide you with unbundled EACs.
EACs transfer a green power claim to the owner of the EAC; upon retirement of the EAC, the owner reduces its scope 2 electricity-related emissions. Scope 2 emissions are, in a nutshell, the indirect greenhouse gas emissions associated with the purchase of electricity, steam, heat, or cooling.
There are different EAC types (eg. GOs, RECs, I-RECs, TIGRs), depending on the governing standard, but they function similarly. They all have their own tracking systems to eliminate double counting through strict vetting of the flow of electrons and the associated attributes.
EACs are not the same as carbon credits
Unlike with carbon credits, the legitimacy of EACs does not depend on their additionality. An EAC is a claim to have used renewable electricity, not to have created it.
Further, while carbon credits help fund global climate action and emission reductions beyond a company's value chain, EACs translate into a credible emission reduction within a company's value chain – specifically when it comes to tackling an organisation's scope 2 electricity-related greenhouse gas emissions. This is enabled by the retirement of EACs combined with the application of an appropriate grid emissions factor (expressed as 'tonnes of CO2equivalent / MWh').
Some approaches to buying EACs are better than others
Prospective buyers usually come to South Pole with a host of different questions: Which EACs should I buy? Do geography and period of generation need to be considered? What about technology? Are some EACs better than others? Are EACs impactful?
The answers to these questions play an important role in suggesting the procurement strategy appropriate to each organisation.
To help you navigate the EAC purchase process, we've listed some of our top observations on different procurement approaches.
No EACs means no reduction of scope 2 emissions
Unless you're implementing a major energy efficiency programme (e.g. actually reducing your energy consumption), you'll need EACs to reduce your scope 2 emissions. Some RE100 members may, however, be able to claim default renewable electricity consumption in markets with highly renewable grids where no market-based instruments exist. To date, this is only possible in Paraguay, Uruguay, and Ethiopia, as defined in RE100s' Technical Criteria.