24/7 Carbon Free Energy: A long journey, but worth the effort
24/7 Carbon-free energy (CFE) procurement is one the most effective ways today for companies to accelerate the decarbonisation of Europe’s power system. By committing to match their energy demand with clean and renewable energy on an hourly basis, companies can reduce their carbon emissions even more than via traditional annual matching, at a similar cost.
As more corporates, cities, governments, and even non-governmental organisations embark on the 24/7 CFE journey, the incentive to develop new build renewable projects and invest in innovative technology grows. This new model also increases transparency and confidence in energy procurement thanks to more granular carbon accounting and energy certification instruments.
The path to 24/7 carbon free energy sourcing, however, presents several challenges.
The power system in Europe is evolving. As the share of renewable energy grows, new challenges arise for system operators to keep the distribution grid balanced in increasingly decentralised networks. Adapting the grid to this necessary evolution requires flexibility solutions such as demand-side response, storage, and firm capacity.
An early study shows how 24/7 CFE procurement can help create an early market for advanced technologies such as long duration storage and geothermal. It can thereby stimulate innovation and learning from which the whole electricity system would benefit.
Energy buyers can also reduce the need for system flexibility investments by taking action to ensure their own supply-demand matching and by adopting combined procurement solutions that include storage and demand side response.
A fundamental need for hourly or sub-hourly energy matching is transparent, accessible and, granular data. This data is essential compass to show when, where and how 24/7 matching can best be implemented.
Data consent and sharing processes, however, are currently difficult to obtain because of administrative, technical and information barriers. These include a lack of legally appointed responsible parties to grant unified access points, missing data standards to ensure interoperability, and differences in security and compliance requirements.
Energy players wanting to fully implement 24/7 CFE, therefore, require a harmonised and standardised system to access metering data through transparent, secure, and digital consent mechanisms.
Measurements, Metrics, and Certificates
When it comes to reporting, it is crucial for companies to provide evidence of their 24/7 matching via energy attribute certificates, known as Guarantees of Origin (GOs) in Europe. The current standard in Europe is to issue MWh certificates, whilst a more granular Wh certificate is needed in order to effectively account for hourly matching.
Adopting 24/7 carbon-free energy procurement requires the GOs to state the precise moment the underlying unity of energy was produced. This level of precision is allowed but not requested under EU law. The review of the Renewable Energy Directive is the perfect opportunity to enable granular certificates to become the new norm.
Moreover, the EU requires the disclosure of the origin of energy, but each country can then decide how to frame each certificate, therefore creating fragmentation across members. The existing European Energy Certificate System (EECS), tried to address the lack of harmonisation among national GO schemes, but kept it on a voluntary basis. Therefore, a common framework for Energy Attribute Certifications that fit 24/7 is needed.
Once market liquidity for 24/7 certificates is ensured, there should be further discussion on enhancing the physical proximity between generation and consumption points. This aspect can bring further benefits in terms of higher emission reductions.
Raising awareness both locally and internationally on 24/7 carbon free energy sourcing is key to bringing it from niche to mainstream.
As an early signatory of the UN Compact for 24/7 CFE, Eurelectric is at the frontline of the 24/7 awareness raising mission and has recently stepped up its efforts in a number of areas.
Yesterday, Eurelectric helped launch the FlexiDAO’s24/7 CFE Academy an online training resource providing detailed information on how to start the 24/7 CFE journey. Bruce Douglas - Eurelectric’s Business and Communications Director - said:
“FlexiDAO’s 24/7 CFE Academy fills in a crucial part of the journey, showing businesses how they can practically move towards matching carbon free energy on an hourly basis, which transparently and credibly reduces their energy-related emissions at acceptable cost. Eurelectric is pleased to support this new, hands-on educational tool as part of our own EU 24/7 Hub.”
Eurelectric has recently further increased our ambition internationally by signing a partnership agreement with the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). The new partnership includes an ambition to raise awareness of 24/7 CFE corporate sourcing through joint initiatives and knowledge-exchange opportunities with strategic stakeholders.
IRENA’s Director General Francesco La Camera stressed the importance of the partnership to progress on the speed and scale of the energy transition:
“To ‘course-correct’ towards 1.5°C, we must triple annual additions of renewable power by 2030. Our partnership with Eurelectric will drive action towards building a sustainable energy system based on renewables and end-use electrification”
Echoing his words, Eurelectric’s Secretary-General Kristian Ruby confirmed:
“The energy transition requires collaboration at an international level. We are therefore delighted to partner with the great minds at IRENA and their global network of energy ministries to help develop and implement solutions to grid infrastructure, 24/7 CFE, and permitting of renewables.”
Are you ready to start this journey? The next 24/7 Hub event will be our annual kick-off meeting on 25 January.
For more information or to join the 24/7 Hub visit the European 24/7 Hub here.