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  • Renewabl Team

Demystifying 7 common misconceptions about EACs

Energy Attribute Certificates (EACs) are crucial for companies aiming to hit their sustainability targets. Known as RECs in the US, GOs in Europe, and REGOs in the UK, these certificates play a vital role in today’s renewable energy landscape. However, EACs face several misconceptions.

At Renewabl, we often encounter these seven misconceptions when speaking with corporate energy buyers. Let's dive in and discuss the actual value of EACs.

Unpacking seven misconceptions about EACs

Market evolution of EACs

In recent years, EAC production has soared alongside renewable energy expansion. Previously, IPPs relied heavily on full PPAs and subsidies, flooding the market with low-value EACs due to limited corporate demand and an abundance of cheap certificates from ageing Hydro plants.

As subsidy schemes wane, and corporate sustainability engagement has increased, demand for PPAs and unbundled EACs has surged. Also, as the market has evolved, lenders have become more comfortable with renewables risk, generators are now able to secure financing with PPAs covering 70-80% of generation. 

This shift empowers generators to secure income with guaranteed PPA agreements for a portion of their output, while retaining flexibility to sell excess for potentially large upside gains in increasingly volatile wholesale markets. This also means they hold a potential surplus of non-subsidy EACs which they can sell to meet the escalating demand from corporate buyers committed to aggressive Scope 2 decarbonisation targets. 

Despite concerns over greenwashing, EACs are pivotal in helping companies achieve renewable energy and sustainability objectives amidst evolving energy dynamics.

Common misconceptions and their demystification

1. Misconception: EACs are not ‘real’ renewable energy.

Demystification: The reality is that EACs represent proof of the renewable energy produced and ensure its environmental benefits are accounted for. While it's true that EACs are certificates rather than physical energy, this is a systemic feature of the energy market. Unless you have on-site renewable generation like solar panels on your roof, the electricity you use from the grid is indistinguishable from other sources. EACs serve as proof that a certain amount of renewable energy was generated for your needs.

Green tariffs, which might appear greener, often combine unbundled EACs with brown energy. Our previous article delves into this, showing that EACs can be just as genuine as other green energy claims. It's vital to scrutinise the details and trace EACs back to their sources to ensure genuine environmental benefits and avoid mere box-ticking for sustainability.

2. Misconception: EACs are not relevant to actual energy consumption.

Demystification: This concern arises from the mismatch between when renewable energy is generated and when it is consumed. However, this is an issue across the entire energy market, not just with EACs.

Companies can address this by actively seeking traceable and impactful EACs. They can choose certificates that match, hour for hour, their specific energy usage patterns, making their renewable energy claims more relevant. For example, opting for EACs from generators that have a complimentary generation profile to your aggregated demand profile.

Technological advancements like hourly matching are also making EACs more relevant. This technology ensures each unit of energy consumed can be directly matched with renewable energy generated, aligning consumption with generation more accurately and ensuring more meaningful carbon accounting.

3. Misconception: EACs can be easily double counted or double claimed, putting you at risk of greenwashing.

Demystification: This is a valid concern, but robust frameworks and tech solutions are tackling it head-on. In Europe the Association of Issuing bodies (AIB) ensures its members, which are the government organisations that oversee and ensure compliance at a national level, are all adhering to the same set of rules. AIB has standardised energy certification across Europe by implementing the European Energy Certificate System EECS.

Nonprofits like the Climate Group are hard at work to prevent this. According to the RE100 2023 Report, 51 TWh of clean energy claims per year aren’t recognised due to transparency issues. Subsequently, energy buyers are trying to reduce the risk by buying more certificates than they really need – more than 5 TWh of over procurement takes place every year.

Going forward, this risk can be managed through robust regulatory frameworks and technological solutions. National regulatory bodies ensure that each EAC is uniquely identified and can only be claimed once. Innovations like blockchain technology provide additional layers of transparency – distributed ledger systems can track each certificate from generation to retirement, proving the location, asset and hour of production.

4. Misconception: EACs are less valuable for renewable energy generators than Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs).

Demystification: While PPAs provide long-term financial stability for large-scale renewable projects, EACs offer additional value, particularly for smaller projects. EACs create another revenue stream, helping these projects become more financially viable. This complementary role of EACs and electricity PPAs enhances the overall financial health of renewable projects, promoting further investment and development in the sector. With recent EAC prices at recent highs, there is a growing argument for certain projects that EAC revenues can be the decisive economic factor between new renewable capacity being built or not.

5. Misconception: EACs don’t offer significant value for energy buyers since they can’t be used to make additionality claims.

Demystification: While PPAs are strong on additionality — showing direct support for new renewable generation — they also require long-term financial commitments. The buyer also has to have an investment grade credit profile and be ready to take on significant market risk. In practice, this precludes the majority of businesses, especially those with smaller demands, from entering the PPA market.

EACs make renewable energy targets achievable for SMEs, expanding the opportunity beyond large corporations with the financial muscle for long-term PPAs. For companies that do not have the budget, legal team, or credit score to get involved in multiple PPAs, EACs offer a more accessible way to support renewable generation.

It should also be noted that even with a PPA in place, most buyers will still need to procure unbundled EACs or sign green tariffs. This is due to the limitations of PPAs, especially physical PPAs where generating more power than needed can lead to significant balancing costs. Typically, businesses cover only a portion of their energy demand with physical PPAs. To fully decarbonise the rest of their energy consumption, they turn to EACs – either unbundled or as part of a green tariff. There are also numerous markets where PPAs are not feasible, either due to regulatory constraints, insufficient available projects, or prohibitive costs. 

EACs can also facilitate 24/7 renewable energy matching, often unattainable with other methods. This ensures that companies can back every hour of their energy use with renewable generation, ideally securing EACs generated in a relevant location and at a relevant time to align with their consumption patterns.

6. Misconception: The prices of EACs can be volatile and subject to market manipulation, affecting their reliability as a long-term solution.

Demystification: Market volatility affects many commodities, not just EACs. Regulatory oversight by entities like the European Commission and standards bodies helps stabilise the market. By monitoring supply-demand dynamics and adjusting regulations as needed, these organisations aim to ensure a balanced and fair market for EACs. Diversified procurement strategies and active risk management can also mitigate the impact of price volatility.

7. Misconception: The process of procuring and managing EACs can be complex and administratively burdensome.

Demystification: Procuring EACs is relatively straightforward compared to signing a long-term PPA, which typically requires a commitment of at least 10 years and involves significant financial risk. The PPA sales cycle is also very long; it can take anywhere between 6-12 months from inception to contract signing and requires consultants, legal support and the time and engagement of many key stakeholders within the buyers organisation.

While managing EACs and finding the best source can be complex, many platforms and services simplify this process for companies of all sizes. EAC marketplaces, for instance, provide streamlined processes for purchasing and verifying certificates.

Regulatory and market support of renewable energy certificates

The regulatory framework backing EACs is evolving under the Renewable Energy Directive (RED). RED III, enacted in October 2023, aims for the EU to achieve at least 42.5% renewable energy by 2030, potentially rising to 45%. It introduces precise subdivisions of Guarantees of Origin (GOs), aligning energy generation more closely with consumption patterns for enhanced credibility.

The European Commission oversees the GOs market to ensure stability, predicting adjustments by 2025 to optimise supply-demand dynamics. Nonprofits like the Climate Group drive standards for 24/7 renewable energy procurement, promoting transparency and detailed tracking. These initiatives support companies in substantiating their commitment to renewable energy with precise hourly time stamped certificates.


EACs are a vital tool for promoting renewable energy and achieving sustainability goals. Despite the misconceptions surrounding them, EACs offer genuine benefits, including flexibility, traceability, and additional support for renewable energy projects. By understanding and addressing these misconceptions, companies can make their EAC purchases in an informed way, avoid any accusation of greenwashing and contribute to a greener future.


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