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United Kingdom

UK accreditation scheme for guaranteed green power

A scheme for accrediting the source of electricity to ensure buyers of the authenticity of renewable energy in the UK is due to be complete in June. The timing coincides with the final stages of liberalisation of Britain's electricity market, when all customers will be able to shop around for their power supplies.

The accreditation scheme is being prepared by the Energy Saving Trust (EST), which will also operate the system after its launch. It has been developed with funding from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), which hopes the scheme will stimulate customer interest in power from renewable sources sold at a premium rate in recognition of its environmental benefits. The scheme focuses on accrediting renewable energy suppliers, but the EST is also developing separate accreditation for generators.

So far, British renewable electricity suppliers have adopted two very different approaches to their "green tariff" schemes, both of which will be eligible for accreditation. Some offer straightforward green pricing of power, whereby a customer's demand over the year is matched by the supplier's purchases of renewable electricity. Suppliers will be expected to identify which renewable sources make up their supply, as well as the approximate percentage. The other type of green tariff is applied through the "eco fund." A customer's premium payments go into a fund that will be invested in new renewable energy projects.

Details of the accreditation system are nearly complete, but EST has embarked on a second round of consultation, taking into account of two developments within the past month: the DTI's consultation paper on renewable energy (page 44), and the tax authority's consultation on a climate change levy. When the finance ministry first announced plans for a levy on the business use of energy, it proposed to levy all electricity supplies-even those from renewables. But the tax authority's consultation provides cause for optimism that an exception may yet be made for renewables, since it asks if energy suppliers could demonstrate their electricity was from renewable sources. The trust is confident its accreditation scheme provides the means to allow renewable electricity to be exempted from the levy.

Although EST's proposed accreditation scheme does not extend to issuing green certificates for use in a pan-European certification system allowing cross border trade in renewable energy, the trust is actively involved in the European debate on the issue. "Green certificates would make our job of auditing renewable energy a whole lot simpler," says EST's Dan Staniaszek. He adds the trust sees itself as the natural body to issue green certificates in the UK.

Meanwhile, criteria for the accreditation were due to be finalised by the end of April, according to Staniaszek. In May the trust expects to begin auditing companies that want to join the scheme in time for a formal launch on June 22.

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