Thumbs up to green certificates

Just as the Dutch government seems to be stepping back from power certification as the engine of renewables support, the country's grid operator, TenneT, gives the concept a big thumbs up in a new report. Full certification showing the source and environmental quality of electricity in the Netherlands is both desirable and possible, says the grid authority. By increasing consumer choice, certification stimulates the production of different forms of electricity.

A reliable national system can be successfully introduced on two conditions: that there is separate trade in certificates and physical power, and that the system is built on existing concepts and practices. Separate trade is necessary to maintain market liquidity, says TenneT. Linking power and certificates results in market segmentation of renewables, which undermines the operation of the power market as a whole.

The country's existing green certificate system, operated by TenneT subsidiary the Groencertificaatenbeheer, is described as a success. It trades the green value of electricity separately from the power. The system is relatively simple, works well and, with few administrative problems, can be extended to incorporate more "colours" of electricity. In a more extensive system, certificates could show the fuel used in production, the CO2 impact, and the production technology. All this should, however, be regulated by a single law, the report recommends.

In terms of technical implementation, the Dutch do not need to wait for the EU, says TenneT. But: "It does remain to be seen whether in terms of policy, it is advisable to precede with a EU system. We must ensure that domestically produced power isn't at a disadvantage in respect to imported power."