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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)?

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