Electricity trading and sales

Guarantee of origin certificates – electricity with a quality seal

Guarantee of origin certificates bring transparency to the electricity market and offer electricity customers options.

For the majority of domestic electricity customers, it is important, or even very important, that the electricity they buy is generated domestically. To meet this consumer need, suppliers are obliged to include details of the origin of the electricity they supply on their customers’ bills.

Tracking origin of electricity through labelling

Since 2001, suppliers have been obliged to inform their customers about the proportions of primary energy generated. The Power Labelling Ordinance (Stromkennzeichnungsverordnung) contains detailed regulations on labelling and disclosure.

It demands customers be informed about the primary energy sources used for the generation of the respective proportions of the supplied electricity. In addition, the Power Labelling Ordinance requires that the proportional distribution of the countries of origin used for electricity labelling and disclosure must also be listed. Since 1 January 2015, there has also been a general ban on electricity of unknown origin ("grey energy").

By adopting a full obligation to labelling, Austria is playing a pioneering role in electricity labelling and disclosure, making it the first country in Europe where electricity suppliers provide their end customers with exclusively labelled electricity. This commitment contributes in particular towards further increasing transparency for electricity customers.

Moreover, Austria is one of the few countries in Europe to have established clear criteria which regulate the recognition of foreign guarantees of origin for national electricity labelling in order to ensure that guarantee of origin certificates are of a high quality and to exclude double counting.

As such, Austria has the most advanced and most developed electricity labelling system in Europe.

 

Austrian electricity labelling for 2015

In 2015, the proportion of guarantees of origin from renewable energy sources was 86.73%. The proportion of fossil fuels was 12.89% and the share of other primary energy sources was very low, at 0.38%.

Furthermore, in accordance with Section 78 Paragraph 2 ElWOG 2010, disclosing the environmental effects (CO2 emissions and radioactive waste which result from production) is compulsory.

 

Guarantees of origin certificates clearly identify the source of the electricity

Proving guarantees of origin of the electricity are verified by standardised guarantees of origin. The statutory provisions in the Austrian Electricity Management Act (ElWOG) and in the Green Electricity Act as well as in the Electricity Labelling Regulation of E-Control Austria (Labelling) precisely regulate the criteria by which the proof must be provided.

At European level, a legal framework ensures that in the case of cross-border electricity trading, the source of the supplied electricity can be traced back to specific facilities. In Austria, only guarantees of origin that meet the strict requirements of EU legislation are recognised. This ensures that each certificate is used only once for a certain amount of electricity and that customers are offered the necessary transparency to choose the origin of their electricity themselves.

Using standardised certificates (i.e. guarantees of origin), it is possible to guarantee that electricity from a certain form of production (e.g. hydropower, biomass or green electricity), which is sold to the customer as pure green electricity, was actually fed into the electricity system in this quantity. This system of guarantees of origin ensures that the origin of the electricity can be clearly assigned from an accounting perspective. A guarantee of origin is issued for the production of one megawatt-hour (MWh) of electricity from renewable energies. This certificate is clearly identifiable, transferable and thus tradeable, and contains various information, including:

  • Unique certificate number,
  • Issuer, quantity (in MWh),
  • Identification of the power plant,
  • Time of issue,
  • Underlying technology used,
  • Installed capacity and,
  • Information about received investment grants or subsidies.

Guarantees of origin are protected against misuse

The electronic guarantees of origin certificates are managed centrally by the regulatory authority E-Control Austria in the guarantee of origin database. This ensures that no certificate can be used multiple times. Foreign certificates are only accepted from countries in which electricity labelling according to the European Single Market Directive is adhered to and double counting is banned. In addition, these certificates must also comply with the requirements of the European Directive on the promotion of the use of energy.