With Expanded and Accelerated Data Access, Energy Attribute Certificate Issuing Bodies Can Capture New Attributes Needed for Next Generation Procurement

Phot of wind turbine generators in front of fields and river landscape.

The Clean Energy Buyers Institute’s NextGen Activator Workshop series is identifying the market system updates necessary to broaden the suite of carbon-free electricity procurement options so customers can optimize the decarbonization impact of their procurement decisions.

Energy attribute certificate (EAC) issuing bodies and registries represent the intersection of all voluntary carbon-free electricity (CFE) markets. As clean energy customers set next generation objectives for CFE procurement and solution providers work to meet evolving energy customers’ needs, EAC issuing body and registry systems have a critical enabling role to play through the introduction of needed new attributes and technical functionalities. By empowering EAC issuing bodies and registries to implement these updates, we can open new channels for CFE procurement that enable customers to send more powerful and targeted market signals

There are five new types of attributes that, once made available in EACs, will help activate a broader suite of CFE procurement solutions for customers. These five new attribute types—including tags for all CFE resources, tags for complementary resources, (sub-)hourly timestamps, grid carbon intensity snapshots, and tags for social/community credentials—require new data access for EAC issuing bodies and registries. Once these data are available, EAC issuing bodies and registries can introduce the needed new attributes and drive next generation procurement solutions forward. 

Representatives from EAC issuing bodies, registries, and standards bodies that oversee voluntary CFE markets across the globe as well as data providers met on July 13th for the sixth workshop in the Clean Energy Buyers Institute (CEBI)’s NextGen Activator series to clarify the data needs to enable EAC issuing bodies and registry to capture needed new attributes in EACs and better serve as a “platform of platforms” for CFE markets.

This workshop generated insights addressing the following two central questions:

Question #1: What are the data types, sources, and quality for the five needed new attributes for EACs that will enable next generation procurement solutions?

Insight #1: The data are generally already available to activate each of the five needed new attributes, but the data sources are widely fragmented and are not yet readily accessible for EAC issuing bodies and registries.

EAC issuing bodies and registries neither create data nor certifications associated with CFE generation. Instead, they provide the technical platform and interfaces whereby trusted, whitelisted data providers deliver the needed static data about each CFE generation device (i.e., facility) and dynamic data about that device’s confirmed monthly CFE generation. 

For each of the five new attributes that together will enable a suite of next generation CFE procurement options for customers, the underlying needed data sources and quality considerations vary. These variations are largely due to differences in market structures and resulting stakeholder arrangements across regional and geographic markets. 

Table 1 below summarizes the key types of data, data sources, data access barriers, and other considerations that must be addressed in order to introduce the five needed new types of EAC attributes. 

 Table 1: Data Needs for New EAC Attributes to Enable Next Generation Procurement

New EAC AttributesData TypesData SourcesNeeds for Implementation
Tags for all CFE resources
Note: No major differences from existing CFE resources already receiving EACs
Verified megawatt-hour (MWh) generation data Grid operators, utilities, and other whitelisted data sources that currently verify MWh generation by CFE resourcesCreation of a new EAC type in certain markets since not all CFE is renewable
Tags for storage (and other complementary resources)Timestamped recharge and discharge data, plus data about whether co-located with CFE resource or drawing from gridGrid operators, utilities, and other whitelisted data sources with access to quality storage meter dataDefine the use and applicability of EAC tags across different scenarios to consider the electricity sources recharging the storage device, the size of the storage device, etc. 
Hourly (or sub-hourly) timestamp
Note: No major differences from monthly timestamp data about MWh generation from CFE resources
More granular hourly (or sub-hourly) timestamped generation data compared to currently more typical data timestamped at the monthly levelGrid operators, utilities, and other whitelisted data sources that currently verify MWh generation by CFE resourcesIntroduce regulatory requirement for the delivery of hourly (or sub-hourly) timestamped data from data sources and potentially change the structure of an EAC so that it captures all MWh generation during an hourly or sub-hourly period (may need to reflect a unit less than the standard 1 MWh) 
Grid carbon intensity snapshot
Note on usage: To be used as a new CFE decision-making criterion (to enable customers to differentiate across EACs based on carbon to indicate where market signals are needed most), but NOT for carbon offset- or avoided emissions-related claims
An average grid carbon intensity factor (ideally, timestamped at an hourly or sub-hourly level) that reflects the carbon intensity of the grid based on the electricity mix at the time the MWh associated with an EAC was generated as well as potentially a marginal carbon emissions factor Grid operators, due to their ownership of the data on the electricity resource mix that can determine the carbon intensity of a grid at a particular point in timeSpecify a straightforward, sufficiently robust method to provide this grid carbon intensity factor on EACs 
Social/community benefit credentialsCertification data that verifies if a CFE resource has certain social or community credentialsThird party certification body that verifies credentials of CFE resources and submits data to EAC issuing bodies and registriesThird parties must first define and create new certifications for various social and community benefit credentials that can be offered for use in EAC issuing body and registry systems

Question #2: How can EAC issuing bodies and registries accelerate access to needed data and the implementation of technical system updates?

Insight #2: There is a need to support EAC issuing bodies and registries with addressing governance, data access, and technical barriers so they can capture new EAC attributes and better serve as a platform of platforms in CFE markets. 

Due to their mandate and market position, EAC issuing bodies and registries can and do make changes to their systems following requests from key stakeholders (i.e., electricity regulatory authority/agency, customers, and solution providers) along with accompanying implementation instructions or guidance. They are limited in their ability to make changes to their systems without such requests. For example, changes may require a regulatory agency like a public utility commission to compel the introduction of new EAC attributes by an issuing body or registry. 

In addition, EAC issuing bodies and registries can only reflect attributes if there is agreement or standards on the data source, quality, and flows underlying these attributes. For example, it is not their role or responsibility to develop a new land siting, community ownership, labor union participation, or diversity/equity/inclusion (DEI) focused certifications or measure metrics of interest such as long-term jobs created by a CFE resource investment. Once there are third parties which oversee these certifications and can provide certification data, then it becomes possible for EAC issuing bodies and registries to ingest these data for new attributes tied to static data about CFE resources that can be included on EACs.

Table 2 below details the types of implementation barriers that create challenges for EAC issuing bodies and registries to introduce new EAC attributes and technical functionalities (e.g., enhanced automated programming interfaces, known as APIs). 

Table 2: Barriers and Potential Solutions to Accelerating Updates Needed to EAC Issuing Body and Registry Systems to Enable Next Generation Procurement

Implementation BarriersDetailsPotential Solutions
GovernanceEAC issuing bodies and registries typically can only make changes, including new attributes, to their systems following requests and approvals from the regulatory authority/agency in their respective market.Regulatory authorities/agencies can request and approve adoption of new EAC attributes, which may require diverse stakeholders, including end-use customers, solution providers, and others, to first compel these authorities/agencies about the need for these new attributes.
Data AccessEAC issuing bodies and registries offer interfaces for trusted, whitelisted data providers to input needed data for EAC issuance, but these data providers are not yet providing (or possibly willing and/or able to provide) the data necessary for new EAC attributes.Regulatory authorities/agencies can compel data providers, such as grid operators and utilities, to deliver already available and needed data to EAC issuing bodies and registries to enable new EAC attributes.
Technical EAC issuing bodies and registries will have to create new data fields and processes in their technical systems to enable users to make use of new EAC attributes. They will also have to develop new APIs to enable data providers to deliver data more seamlessly into their systems and enable solution providers to build integrated platforms more easily on top of their systems.EAC issuing bodies and registries can develop user requirements and development backlogs to define the needed new functionality, new resource requirements, timelines, etc. for this implementation.
ResourcingEAC issuing bodies and registries may need to secure additional technical staff and budget resources before they can implement, test, and roll out the technical changes to their systems.EAC issuing bodies and registries can identify and request additional staff and budget resource needs. 

Given the common challenges that EAC issuing bodies and registries face, it appears that updates may move ahead faster through swifter stakeholder action as well as new “accelerator programs” that provide technical toolkits and guidance for implementation. 

EAC issuing bodies and registries will reconvene in early August for another workshop to further detail these and other potential solutions to accelerate needed updates to their systems. The insights that CEBI is gathering from this workshop and all NextGen Activator workshops will inform robust public CEBI NextGen Activator community guidance (to be published in late September) that details the market updates needed and outlines the proposed roles and responsibilities of different market stakeholders to enable next generation procurement solutions.