While the intricacies of the certificate registration and accounting procedures prompted many questions from the 100 or so delegates in attendance, there was clearly considerable support for the creation of an international trading mechanism. A number of speakers explained the applicability of the system to their own circumstances.
Describing the failures of the British system of renewables support, the Non Fossil Fuel Obligation (NFFO), Peter Musgrove from National Wind Power (NWP) outlined the benefits of green energy trading from a UK perspective. "The existing NFFO arrangement has delivered little capacity because the prices are too low and the process too complex for local ownership," he told the conference. With Britain discussing a new electricity trading arrangement for the entire power market, the UK was now at a turning point, he added. A Renewables Portfolio Obligation using Green Certificates would, he believed, be the ideal support mechanism for UK wind development post-NFFO. Accordingly, NWP is currently seeking accreditation for Green Certificate sales, while the Energy Savings Trust in Britain will launch an accreditation scheme for electricity from renewable energy sources in July, he said.
Hans-Erik Kristoffersen of the Association of Danish Electric Utilities outlined the benefits of certified international renewables trade in the Danish context. The green certificate system, he argued, is the only way of reconciling the conflicting political demands for the liberalisation of the energy market and increased renewables usage.
Until recently a fixed price was paid for all renewables power in Denmark, set at 80% of the end consumer price for electricity. But with increasing amounts of power coming from renewables, in a liberalised market money would soon run out to finance new investments, he pointed out. As a result, Denmark is replacing its fixed price system with an obligation on all consumers to buy 20% of their power from renewables. "The introduction of the certificate model will still mean that customers will be obliged to buy more expensive green electricity, but the production will be based on market mechanisms which will result in lower prices for green electricity," argues Kristoffersen.
The seminar was planned to conclude with a declaration calling upon "all governments, energy companies, energy agencies, and certification institutes to join this initiative." The vote on the declaration for an international green credit trading system had to be postponed, however, on the arrival of Dutch energy minister Annemarie Jorritsma for the closing ceremony of SUSTAIN '99. Despite the abrupt axing of the finale, organiser ENW said it was happy with the response to its proposals. "Within two years we will see real trading taking place at fairs like this," predicted ENW's Willem-Fredrick Metzelaar. Judging from the crowd surrounding ENW's green label purchaser, Frank Hoogland, however, a number of delegates looked keen to begin trading considerably earlier.
Appropriately enough, the fair closed, not with a rousing call to storm the barricades, but with Jorritsma witnessing a contract for a joint venture between ENW and Amsterdam's City Refuse Department, which will utilise the heat from refuse combustion as thermal energy. Feasibility studies had shown the project was economically viable given the use of subsidies, eco-tax, green-financing and Green Labels. The first Green Labels for thermal energy will be issued within six months, promised Jorritsma.