Reports: Government poised for crackdown on use of renewable energy certificates in electricity sector

The government is looking to clamp down end the practice of bulk buying European renewable power certificates which enable electricity suppliers to describe their tariffs as green, despite remaining invested in fossil fuel power, according to reports.

The Times reported yesterday that the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) is set to stop UK suppliers from buying renewable energy Guarantee of Origin certificates from Europe next Spring.

The use of guarantee of origin certificates has garnered criticism amid claims that practice is misleading to consumers – as well as being detrimental to ‘pure’ clean energy suppliers which contract electricity directly from renewable energy generators – because it allows suppliers to claim green credentials without directly purchasing any renewable energy.

Moreover, a significant portion of the bulk-bought tokens by UK energy suppliers from European suppliers are backed by biomass stations, which some critics argue are emissions-intensive power generator facilities.

Under the current rules, energy suppliers in the UK can describe themselves as green if they have generated the power themselves, struck a supply agreement with generators or bought a certificate from a green power station, either in the UK or the EU.

The government has long promised to cease recognition of EU Guarantee of Origin certificates over the coming years, and has sought industry views on the best timeframe to do so in a consultation launched earlier this year.

But yesterday The Times reported that the government has now set a deadline of 1 April of next year to end the practice, arguing the timeframe would “minimise negative impact on UK generators, suppliers and consumers”.

It comes nearly a year after BEIS announced it would tighten rules around Renewable Energy Guarantee of Origin (REGO) certificates in order to “stop greenwashing of electricity tariffs”.

More than half of new electricity tariffs are now badged at ‘100 per cent renewable’ or ‘green’, thanks in large part to the certification scheme, according to the government.

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