Tuesday, 2 December 2008

The GreenPower Accreditation Program – You can be sure it’s Green

What is GreenPower?
Established in 1997, GreenPower is a national accreditation program that sets stringent environmental and reporting standards for renewable electricity products offered by energy suppliers to households and businesses across Australia. Suppliers who sell accredited GreenPower products buy electricity generated from accredited renewable generators on your behalf and feed it into the National Electricity Grid.

What qualifies as ‘eligible’ renewable energy?
Renewable energy never runs out, and is derived from sources that cannot be depleted or energy that can be replaced, such as solar, wind, biomass (waste), wave or hydro. Renewable sources don’t produce greenhouse gas pollution.

What is accreditation?
In GreenPower’s case the renewable energy product is endorsed by a collection of state governments that manage the GreenPower program. To gain endorsement from the GreenPower program it must be generated from:

1.Eligible renewable energy sources that meet strict environmental standards
2.A new renewable energy facility that was built since January 1997 (Other renewable energy exists, but it may not be accredited because it was built before 1997, and was already contributing energy to the electricity grid)

Accreditation ensures that companies are producing renewable energy of the same standard, making it easier for customers to choose between different renewable energy products. Accreditation means that GreenPower retailers’ sales and purchases are audited annually.

Accredited GreenPower versus non-accredited GreenPower
Generally non-accredited products source their renewable energy from old sources that were established decades ago, such as large hydro-electric projects. Purchasing products from old renewable energy sources does not contribute directly to new investments in renewable energy.
In some cases the same electricity being offered to customers as ‘green’ (but not GreenPower accredited) is being counted towards electricity retailers’ mandatory requirements. The federal government already requires that energy companies buy a small percentage (2-3 percent) of electricity from renewable energy sources. Accredited GreenPower purchases involve additional mandatory requirements on electricity retailers to purchase renewable energy, which increases overall demand for renewable energy.

The same strict guidelines and other independent audit processes may not exist for non-accredited renewable energy products so it cannot be guaranteed that purchase of these products will contribute to further investment in clean renewable energy in the future.

What does the GreenPower label mean?
An accredited GreenPower product will always carry the ‘tick’ label. This accreditation label is supported and managed by governments throughout Australia. These labels tell you the amount of accredited GreenPower your energy retailer is purchasing on your behalf, as a percentage (10% – 100%) of your household’s electricity consumption.

Why switch to Green Power?
Traditionally, electricity on the central grid is mostly produced by generators that burn coal, which is the most greenhouse intensive form of energy production. In New South Wales and Victoria for example, more than 90 per cent of electricity comes from burning coal. GreenPower helps make it easy to significantly reduce your impact on climate change by:

1. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions
2. Driving demand for investment in renewable energy
3. Helping to reduce water consumption (renewable energy generation uses much less water than coal and gas powered stations)

Sourced from www.greenpower.gov.au

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