Exam report: Guarantees of Origin (GOs)
Applications in LCA
Electricity has traditionally represented a product supplied through homogeneous markets as it is impossible to physically distinguish one unit of electricity taken from the grid from another. At the same time, these units of electric energy have been fed into the grid from production plants with very different environmental loads as well as different resource costs. This form the background for the discussions and debates regarding which electricity models should be assumed for one particular electricity customer in Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and environmental reporting of products and services.
However, the implementation of Guarantees of Origin (GOs), representing a tracking instrument for proving the origin of electricity, opens up the possibilities of separating the produced electricity which is covered by GOs from the rest of the electricity production. In addition to the tracking mechanism, a GO also provides contractual obligations between the supplier and customer regarding the relevant electricity plant, energy source, production period etc. This means that the consumers are given the opportunity of demanding and choosing (by voluntarily purchasing GOs) a specific volume and electricity generation technology in order to cover their electricity consumption volume.
Research question The main research question in this study is: Why and how should voluntary purchased renewable electricity (e.g. GOs) be claimed in LCAs and environmental footprints of products, services and companies?
This research question includes discussions regarding the following sub-questions: How does this issue relate to the existing LCA methodology regarding the attributional and consequential modelling approaches? Does voluntary purchased GOs have a potential of increasing the overall new renewable electricity production capacity (create additional power plants)?