Until recently, the primary sources of generation were carbon-emitting, like coal, natural gas and oil. At the start of the 21st century, companies began looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprints by matching energy use with renewable energy certificates (RECs) to reduce emissions associated with their energy use on an annual basis. Eventually, those companies set goals to reach net zero.
That’s a great start, but annualized RECs don’t ensure that the energy being used by a customer is actually carbon-free at the point in time it is being used. As a result, many companies still rely on electricity from carbon-emitting power plants, which makes it difficult for them to achieve their carbon reduction goals.
Despite their limitations, RECs have been very effective at funding a significant wave of renewable energy construction and will remain a useful tool. But one shortcoming is that they incentivize developers to build renewable resources in places where the power isn’t actually needed.
To solve this problem, we need to do better than RECs and annual estimates. For companies to truly meet their carbon-free goals, we need hourly carbon-free energy matching, a game-changing approach to clean energy procurement that matches a customer’s electricity needs with regional, clean, carbon-free energy, when and where it is needed.