Solar renewable energy certificates (sRECs) can benefit everyone. They can also be described using a lot of jargon and industry-specific context, let us break it down for you.
A Solar renewable energy certificate, sREC, is a certificate that recognizes a specific amount of solar renewable energy generated (1000kWh), and therefore displaces the amount of fossil fuels needed.
A solar energy producer is anyone with a solar array that is connected and actively harnessing solar power – that producer will have lower energy bills and can trade the sRECs they’ve generated with every 1000kWh.
A business, utility or individual who wants to counter the carbon emitted from their driving, electrical use, materials, etc. can buy sRECs to counterbalance the effect of their actions.
Since they were introduced in the early part of this century, sRECs have mostly been traded between businesses and utilities. While residential consumers have participated less in the sREC market, we recognize that this is not for lack of interest, but rather lack of understanding.
We hope the following information will make it easier for you to understand the concepts and benefits surrounding sRECS, and how you can benefits from sRECs too!
What exactly is a solar REC?
A solar renewable energy certificate, sREC, represents the environmental attributes of 1000 kilowatt hours of solar renewable energy generation.
Who creates sRECs?
A solar energy producer – anyone with a solar array that is connected and actively harnessing solar power.
How do sRECS help the environment?
Solar renewable energy certificates create a demand for solar energy, and incentivize divesting from fossil fuels. When more solar energy is produced the result is great for our environment. It means:
- Cleaner air – Fewer carbon emissions
- Cleaner water – Fewer particulates that acidify lakes
- Less water consumed to generate power
- Unlimited energy source
Who benefits from sRECs?
Generators – those who harness the power can be paid more for their sRECs if the demand to purchase them is high.
Developers – solar installers and developers can increase the value of the systems they are selling if the new array owners are able to sell their sRECs.
Ratepayers – get a more diverse, independent, and reliable electrical grid as investments in solar energy become cheaper.
Tax payers – Reducing greenhouse gases and air pollution can save taxpayers from having to pay for climate-related degradation to the tune of $78 billion.
Wildlife – A gigawatt of installed renewable energy saves 42 species from going extinct due to climate change.
The buying and selling of sRECs creates incentive and demand for solar growth. It is helping to increase the amount of sustainable energy produced right here in Wisconsin!
What do I ‘get’ for a sREC??
A physical or digital certificate that is purchased and therefore ‘retired’ by the buyer. The certificate grants the buyer the legal right to 1000 kWh of solar energy.
These certificates are used both to track renewable energy and represent the absence of emissions.
Who sells sRECs?
Typically aggregators, companies within the renewable energy sector that are able to source, verify, and purchase multiple sRECs from multiple different generators/producers.
Legacy Solar Co-op sells sRECs through our Switch to Solar (S2S) program. We purchase sRECs from Wisconsin based solar energy producers and sell them to our members and Wisconsin residents and organizations.
Is this starting to sound familiar?
Now that you’ve been introduced to sRECs, you might be thinking you’ve heard of similar products or credits being sold.
sRECs are the most regulated and transparent product to address carbon pollution. This is why Legacy Solar Co-op invests in them rather than other sources (like carbon offsets). Some similar or synonymous terms for renewable certificates would be green tags, renewable credits and offsets.
How can I use sRECs to counter my carbon pollution?
To tackle carbon pollution, organizations and homeowners should measure their carbon footprint, take steps to reduce their emissions and waste, and then purchase sRECs to counter the remaining unavoidable emissions.
Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SRECs) are an important concept to understand when considering your options for helping the environment. We can’t out-run climate change without everyone contributing and investing in as many ways as they can.
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Legacy Solar Cooperative of Wisconsin is committed to assisting the growth of solar electricity through consultation, financing, and group purchases. Membership is open to individuals, non-profits, and commercial organizations.