2019 marked an important milestone for GCC, our 5-year anniversary as central issuer for the I-REC Standard. The purpose of this annual review is not only to reflect on 2019, and what we achieved, but to look at the lessons learnt and what can we carry forward into 2020 and beyond.
At GCC, our mission aligns with the United Nations SDG7 and SDG13, seeking to 'ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all' and 'take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts'. In 2019 it was encouraging that almost 75% of new electricity capacity globally was renewable, with renewables providing over 33% of electricity supply (IRENA 2019). Reviewing our activity in 2019 we saw increased growth into new markets, with GCC becoming I-REC issuer in 7 new countries. We also saw notable growth in existing markets, particularly in South-East Asia. A record number of I-RECs were also issued in 2019, a 94% increase on 2018 volumes.
However, looking forward, 2020 has already been an extraordinary year and the global pandemic has resulted in many of us adapting to new ways of working and collaborating to facilitate continued growth in the renewable energy market. At GCC we are conscious of the need to maintain our service levels to all our customers. We are also aware that registrants have faced many challenges and implemented several changes to our service to ease this, including extending the deadline for issue requests for 2019 production.
As we navigate the current challenges, we continue to invest in our service so that we are prepared to support our customers as they focus on what may, for many, be a very different market in 2021 and beyond. As many organisations are forced to look inward in order to survive, the need to develop an environmentally sustainable society has moved ever higher in the public agenda. GCC is focussed on being a responsive, flexible, and professional partner in helping organisations achieve their environmental objectives.
I wish you all well and look forward to continuing existing relationships and developing new ones over the coming years.
Ed Everson, Director
GCC is the central issuer for I-REC (International Renewable Energy Certificates) and accredited by the International REC Standard. With over 20 years' experience in energy markets, we are the centre of excellence for renewable energy certification and represent hundreds of renewable energy projects around the world. As of December 2019, we have issued almost 30 million I-RECs since its inception in 2014.
The global demand for renewable energy is increasing due to the threat of climate change and the need to transition to a more sustainable global economy. Consumers want to buy renewable energy using a credible tracking system which we help to support. We work in accordance with the I-REC Standard to provide transparent, secure, and reliable tracking of EACs (energy attribute certificates), backed by quality verification standards. The I-REC Standard is at the forefront of the global market for renewable energy certificates and its formation drew upon our extensive expertise in implementing renewable energy mechanisms across multiple countries to provide a uniform reporting solution.
We are the central issuer and a centre of excellence for renewable electricity certification for end users around the world, accredited by the International REC Standard (I-REC).
Make a positive impact on the renewable energy certification market.
Help establish access to affordable, reliable and renewable electricity and climate security.
The work we do at GCC helps companies prove their electricity consumption to the world's major reporting bodies, including CDP (Carbon Disclosure Project), GGP (Greenhouse Gas Protocol), and RE100. As the Central Issuer for I-REC, GCC ensures that all EAC's issued align with these standards, to maintain trust and the robustness of attribute certification.
The CDP is a not-for-profit charity which enables organisations, cities, even whole nations to disclose their environmental footprint. The Greenhouse Gas Protocol is a global standard for companies reporting GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions across their supply chain. The RE100 is a global initiative encouraging companies to commit to supplying 100% of their electricity needs from renewable energy. Both GGP and RE100 members disclosing their Scope 2 or 3 emissions under the CDP must use EAC's, such as I-RECs, to verify their consumption.
The SDGs are a call to action by the UN (United Nations) and were established in 2014 as part of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. The 17 goals represent the social, economic and environmental challenges humanity must urgently address for the benefit of the planet and its people. Our purpose, mission and vision directly address SDG 7 and 13, but also align with many others (see Case Studies).
Goal 7 is to "Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all." Target 7.2 specifically says: "By 2030, increase substantially the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix." Through the certification of energy attributes, GCC offers a valuable mechanism for promoting the growth of renewable energy, incentivising developers to invest more in clean energy projects. In order to evidence progress towards the SDG 7, end users purchase I-RECs issued by GCC from over 26 countries, across 4 different continents to make reliable claims about their renewable energy consumption. The issuance of I-RECs can also increase electrification in developing countries, as the additional revenue unlocks a nation's potential to invest in its renewable energy resources.
Goal 13 is to "Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts". 2019 marked the second warmest year on record and saw the highest increase in CO2 levels and other GHG emissions. The decarbonisation of electricity grids is at the cornerstone of our efforts to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius and reduce GHG emissions. This represents a huge challenge as power generation contributes between 30-40% of global emissions, of which businesses are responsible for half. Companies therefore have a huge responsibility to shift demand away from fossil fuels, towards clean energy technologies. The purchasing of I-RECs makes this transition transparent, reliable and cost-effective. Increasing the share of renewables in the global energy mix allows to business to continue as normal, in the knowledge that they are contributing to a low-emission, climate resilient planet.
As of December 2019, GCC was responsible for the issuance of I-RECs in 26 countries, making us the largest issuing body (per country) in the world. The addition of 7 new countries in 2019 represents a 35% growth since 2018. These new markets include Chile, Costa Rica, Egypt, Nigeria, Panama, Peru, and Sri Lanka.
Continued growth across Central America mirrors a growing commitment to decarbonise the region's electricity grid, where some of the largest and most dynamic renewable energy sectors are located. Given their political and economic stature in the continent, we expect the recent additions of Nigeria and Egypt to generate a domino effect in the region, with GCC expanding its role in other African nations over the coming years. Though the renewable energy market in Sri Lanka is in its infancy, the introduction of GCC is expected to support the nation's switch to renewables.
2019 also saw the densification of existing markets, particularly in South East Asia, where our strong presence in the region is clearly highlighted by Figure 1. 2020 is expected to be another year of growth, with discussions underway to expand GCC's role as a central issuer and continue to make a positive impact, on the renewable energy certification market.
GCC represents over 64% of the countries authorised to issue I-RECs, demonstrating our clear commitment to the I-REC market.
As our overarching mission is to make a positive impact on the renewable energy certification market and expand the I-REC brand, GCC also provides services to local issuers as shown in Figure 2. This includes training local organisations in the fundamentals of a being an Issuer, including KYC checks, device registrations, and processing of issuance requests.
A record 18,601,001 I-RECs were issued in 2019, a growth rate of almost 120% on the previous year. Of all certificates issued in 2019, GCC was responsible for around 81%, emphasising our role as the leading issuer for I-RECs.
Figure 4 shows a steady increase in issuing volume between 2015 and 2017, then an acceleration of activity post-2018 as the reputation of I-REC and GCC grew.
Wind accounts for the largest share in issuing activity, with over half of all I-RECs issued in 2019 verifying electricity generation from wind technology. This is unsurpising given that technological advances and mass production have made wind development cheaper, with many national governments now offering generous tax incentives to stimulate this type of renewable energy.
Hydro makes up the second largest share of I-RECs issued by GCC. This renewable source is one of the oldest and most exploited technologies globally, accounting for around 20% of global electricity production. Though solar is one of the most promising renewables in the world, its slower growth demonstrates a lack of maturity for the technology in the market. Its potential is also concentrated in regions where access to finance is limited. Issuing activity for solar is expected to increase as more of the technology becomes operational.
A record 150 renewable energy projects were registered in 2019. India was the most active country, accounting for over 25% of new registrations and was the only nation to register all four primary renewable energy types. Thailand was the most active in solar registration, with GCC registering 26 devices for the country.
Figure 5 and 6 demonstrate the contrast between the scale and number of renewable energy devices registered by GCC. Though India registered 20 more devices than China, the registered capacity of the latter was more than double that of the former. China registered just over 1,900 MW of renewable capacity, predominantly through wind generation but also hydro. Nigeria registered the greatest capacity of hydro capacity in the form of one plant: the Shiroro Hydroelecric Power Station which has an installed capacity of 600MW.
Figure 7 presents a breakdown of the types of renewable technology registered in 2019. Hydropower accounts for the greatest share, with wind following closely behind. Both technologies are giants of the renewable energy sector because they are easily scalable. Solar accounts for 10% in comparison but is predicated to grow. Thermal, which includes both biomass and geothermal, represented just 2% of all capacity registered, mainly due to the small size of the devices registered.
Figure 8 summarises the total of installed capacity per country. China represents almost more than a third of the market share, demonstrating their progress towards decarbonising their electricity grid, in line with their plans to go carbon neutral by 2060. Colombia and India have the second and third largest installed capacities registered with GCC and between them account for just over 20% of the market share.
Figure 9 shows that China represents over 25% of all devices registered by GCC. Though, Colombia ranked second in terms of capacity registered, they rank eighth based on devices registered, indicating the large scale of projects registered by GCC.
Figure 10 demonstrates a consistent growth of devices registered by GCC to enable the issuance of I-RECs. Since 2018, wind has grown by 67% and will look to compete with hydro in the coming years, which grew by almost 54% on the previous year.
GCC expects growth to continue on this trajectory for three reasons. Firstly, more existing renewable energy devices will be registered as the benefits associated with renewable energy certifications becomes more widespread. Secondly, more renewable energy devices are being built than ever before and registrants want to issue I-REC's to maximise profits. Finally, the I-REC Standard Foundation is expected to authorise more countries for GCC to act as local issuer, expanding our current reach into new territories with vast renewable energy potential.
The Sidrap Wind Farm, located in South Sulawesi, is Indonesia’s first utility scale wind farm and was registered with GCC in December 2019. Consisting of 30 wind turbines and a total installed capacity of 75MW, it is the largest in Indonesia and within South East Asia. The wind farm produces 253,000 MWh of renewable energy each year to the national grid which is the equivalent of powering over 70,000 local homes.
The project marked an important milestone for renewable energy in Indonesia, contributing to the country's plans to achieve their Energy National General Plan (RUEN) target of 1.8 GW of wind power installation by 2025. The project began in 2016 and has been in commercial operation since March 2018. In addition to reducing Indonesia's dependence on fossil fuels for power, the project has helped raise awareness of climate change and demonstrated the capacity for mitigation, adaption and impact reduction.
The 50MW Phuoc Huu Solar Power Plant located in the south-central coastal region of Viet Nam was registered with GCC by Coral Future Pte Ltd in June 2019. The solar project supplies clean energy to the national electricity system, providing power to the whole country in general and the Ninh Thuan province in particular. Not only has the plant eased power shortages but local authorities have also highlighted that it will contribute to provincial economic development, facilitating the province to become a renewable energy centre.
"We are excited to be part of Phuoc Huu Solar project which not only generates clean electricity but also creates new economic opportunities in Ninh Thuan province of VietNam," said Santosh Singh, CEO, Coral Future. "This is further supported by the additional revenue stream from the sale of energy attributes certificates."
The plant aligns with the direction of the Government, the Ministry of Industry and Trade and the Viet Nam Electricity's orientation to develop clean energy. At present, Viet Nam utilises all four large sources of renewable energy: hydroelectricity, wind power, solar power and biomass to displace to the growth of coal capacity. Wind and solar combined contribute to 10% of the country's electrical generation, helping the Government to achieve its goal to produce 10.7% of its electricity from renewable energy sources (primarily through solar and wind power projects) by 2030. The Government aims to increase this further, to 20% by 2050.
Viet Nam possesses significant potential to further develop solar power, especially in the central and south regions, where there are higher than average annual sunshine hours; from 2,000-2,600 hours/year. The installed capacity of solar power projects in Viet Nam increased significantly during the previous year, from 86 MW in 2018 to approximately 4.5 GW by the end of June 2019. This represents an annualised installation rate of about 90 W per capita per annum, meaning Viet Nam claimed the highest installed capacity in Southeast Asia in 2019.
The Gunung Salak Geothermal Plant is located in the Halimun-Salak National Park of Indonesia. The project became operational in 1994 and was registered with GCC in May 2019. The plant has not only benefitted the local community with clean electricity, but also acted as a catalyst for education, economic development and gender equality in the relatively deprived district of Kabandungan. This demonstrates the potential for renewable energy projects to go beyond their positive environmental impact and bring social and economic benefits to the surrounding communities.
Indonesia is situated in the "Pacific Ring of Fire", bestowing the nation with a dynamic range of volcanoes, geysers and hot springs across the entire archipelago. For this reason, Indonesia is the world's second largest producer of geothermal electricity after the US but has the greatest resource potential than any other country in the world. Technical challenges, a lack of financing and previous regulation which branded geothermal projects as a 'mining activity' (illegal in national parks) has prohibited the Indonesia's development of its most abundant clean energy resource.
Going forward, GCC aims to play a defining role in the world's transition towards climate security, 100% access to electricity and 100% renewable power. The next decade will prove decisive in determining the scale and severity of the climate crisis. At GCC, we believe change is possible and are committed to accelerating the collective progress of governments and businesses toward a future which cares for both people and planet. We will continue to champion the SDGs, enabling organisations to make reliable claims about climate action and increasing access to affordable and clean energy. As a market leader in global attribute certification, we possess a strong desire to facilitate market-based solutions to drive progress towards a more sustainable planet.