Country of origin

In January 2018, 12% of the electricity supplied to this customer came from Austria.

GreenCheck

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This case was submitted as part of the Call for Innovations, an annual partnership initiative between OPSI and the UAE Mohammed Bin Rashid Center for Government Innovation (MBRCGI)

The energy regulator of Flanders, Belgium, has launched a new interactive online tool, ‘GreenCheck 2.0’, allowing each citizen and company to check the characteristics of the electricity supplied to their home, such as the percentage of renewables, the country of origin and the energy source.

This way, the government caters to the increasing demand for green contracts, the need for transparency from suppliers and the government, while overall empowering the liberalization of the energy market.

Innovation Summary

Innovation Overview

Consumers are growing more concerned about climate change and their carbon footprint. One direct way for citizens to close the gap between environmental concern and consumer action is by choosing a green electricity contract. As the energy regulator for Flanders, one of VREG's tasks is overseeing the market and trade of green energy. To be able to sell electricity from renewable resources, energy suppliers are legally required in Belgium - as in most European countries - to hand in guarantees of origin. These guarantees of origin are a form of proof stating the country of production and the technology used and must be handed in to the regulator and cancelled based on the volume of supplied electricity on a monthly basis.

Together with the growing interest in green electricity, there is also a the customer's concern about whether the supplied energy is really green, show various surveys conducted by VREG and others. While it is one of the core tasks of the government through VREG to oversee the domestic and international trade of the guarantees of origin and their cancellation by the suppliers, the other is communicating the findings to the public. The general fuel mix of each supplier is calculated yearly by VREG and is a mandatory section on the energy invoices. However, registration of the individual contracts of each citizen and checking one by one whether the contractual guarantees concerning the percentage renewables are fulfilled, is not technically nor practically feasible - although of great societal relevance.

To counter effectively and efficiently the challenges of the 21st century, such as this one, the public service must explore new and more agile models and methodologies to perform its tasks and meet the changing needs of citizens in complex environments. In response to this, the VREG together with the Flemish Minister of Energy, launched a tool, the GreenCheck (1.0), in 2012 as a means to inform citizens, enterprises and local governments about their electricity consumption. It provided proof of the percentage of green (=renewable) or grey (=nuclear or fossil) character of the electricity supplied per individual customer, accessible by inserting the connection point number online on the VREG-website.

In recent years, the interest and concern of the customer has expanded beyond the scope of the first version and the need for a second GreenCheck arised. The objectives of the GreenCheck 2.0 launched in 2018 were three-fold:
1) Provide more information: include data on the country of origin and type of energy source;
2) Use the citizen generated results as a means to control and regulate the electricity suppliers;
3) Enhance the liberalization of the energy market by leveling the playing field.

Technically, the tool functions by following a four-step process:
1) The suppliers report to VREG on a monthly basis the customers with a green contract;
2) The VREG passes these lists on to the distribution grid operators who add the volume of electricity consumed per connection point;
3) Based on the volumes, VREG calculates the quota per supplier and per commercial product of guarantees of origin that need to be cancelled;
4) VREG performs initial checks and publishes the results of the characteristics of the cancelled guarantees of origin online through the GreenCheck tool.

In essence, the GreenCheck 2.0 is successful in innovating the way energy regulation works and combining multiple purposes by creating a methodology that steps away from the 'central government'-system and implements a decentralized citizen powered framework. The tool serves a purpose to citizens by informing them objectively about the electricity they consumed and secondly serves a purpose to the government in its task to regulate which otherwise could not have been performed. If citizens find inaccuracies between the GreenCheck and their contract, they can contact VREG who will impose disciplinary actions on the suppliers. This has already happened on multiple occasions and, only shortly after launching the tool, also on a very large scale and to a major supplier.
Citizens in turn are more informed and can make more conscious choices when choosing a supplier. This fact-check system also demands fair play in the liberalized energy market and even sparks innovation as well, for example in emerging suppliers that use the characteristics of the electricity as the core of their business plan.

Innovation Description

Innovation Development

Innovation Reflections

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