Renewable energy guarantees of origin are a controversial topic, often used for claims of “fossil free” or “carbon neutral” products and services. But is it true?
While when used ethically, guarantees of origin can have a positive impact, currently research shows that guarantees of origin do not lead to any immediate reduction in emissions. According to a study by Oslo Economics for the Norwegian Ministry of Petroleum and Energy (2018-30), guarantees of origin have also not had a substantial impact on renewable energy investments so far. This means that as of right now, it is clearly wrong to give zero emissions to those who buy guarantees of origin
The use case for guarantees of origin towards consumers is clearly defined by Energi Norge: Electricity suppliers must not make claims that guarantees of origin are proof of sustainable practice. Instead, they are instructed to claim that guarantees of origin increase the revenue for producers of renewable energy. Guarantees of origin are therefore to be considered donations to renewable electricity providers and their owners (often municipalities and investment funds).
Guarantees of origin can contribute to reduced CO2e-intensity in the future by incentivizing investments in green energy. Global warming is an urgent problem, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions now has a greater benefit than in the future. Ducky therefore values reduced consumption significantly higher than the promise of future reductions. Nonetheless, we are working towards calculating the marginal effect of guarantees of origin, as a positive "handprint" representing future savings.