Who are you and what exactly do you do at Grüner Strom Label e.V.?
I am a staunch supporter of the energy transition. I am driven by the desire to contribute to the preservation of the basis of life for the next generations with good expertise. After years of research work on the future energy system, I would like to work even more effectively with Grüner Strom Label e.V. for the sustainability development of the energy supply.
I have been in charge of the Green Electricity certification management in the association since mid-January and oversee the certification process and the use of the subsidies.
Why the energy industry, why renewable energies? What is your personal motivation behind your job?
After five years in my own midwifery practice, I studied mechanical engineering, specializing in regenerative energy technology. I wanted to have sound knowledge about the possibilities of how we can preserve the foundations of life for the children I accompanied into life. I no longer wanted to be thwarted by people who seem to know better - the "experts" that is.
After a few years in energy transition research, it was clear that technical solutions were not enough - the economic approaches to bring the existing technology into our energy market were missing. This requires appropriate legal requirements that make it possible to earn money or save money with the energy transition solutions. So I still studied energy law, energy economics and energy policy while continuing to work in energy transition research.
Bringing about change in the energy industry requires more than just science. It takes information in an appropriate format that is translated into lived knowledge - by voters and then by politicians. And it takes massive change within a decade.
What is green power certification anyway, how can you imagine the certification process?
Green electricity is environmentally and climate friendly. Making our energy supply independent of fossil resources and converting to 100 percent renewable energy in the long term is necessary and right. However, the impetus to switch to a fully renewable energy system from the legal requirements is not enough. A rapid, decentralized and environmentally compatible energy transition therefore needs additional impetus as quickly and effectively as possible. And we are providing this through our green electricity certification rules. Our certification specifies and controls what kind of projects are subsidized by the subsidy cents paid by green electricity customers. In this way, we ensure that important energy transition projects are realized. Without our subsidies, many tenant electricity projects or heating networks would not be built. And in the future, power generation plants for which there will be no more EEG subsidies after 20 years can also be saved from premature dismantling by our green power subsidies.
Almost every energy supplier today offers green electricity. But many green electricity tariffs do not bring about any additional environmental benefits. That's why environmental and consumer associations have developed a seal of approval for high-quality green power products. This seal of approval is awarded by us after going through the certification process.
What is the certification process like?
Energy suppliers who wish to obtain the Green Electricity Label for a product apply to us for initial certification. If there is nothing to prevent this, Grüner Strom Label e.V. and the supplier conclude a label agreement, and the supplier undertakes to comply with the criteria. After the initial certification, Grüner Strom Label e.V. will check every two years at the latest whether the criteria have been met. Our certification reports are additionally validated by another independent body, currently GUT Certifizierungsgesellschaft für Managementsysteme mbH.
During the certification process, we check on the one hand whether the energy supplier has purchased enough green electricity for the relevant customers and can also prove this with electricity supply contracts and certificates of origin from the green power plants. In addition - and a core criterion of our label - we check the amount of electricity sold to the green power customers and the subsidies collected with it. This is because we use it to calculate the investment obligations in new energy transition projects that must be realized by the energy suppliers within the next two years. In the course of certification, we check retrospectively whether the necessary amount has been invested in effective projects. Only if all these rules have been complied with does a green electricity product receive the Green Electricity Label for the next two years.
You live the topics of environmental protection and energy transition not only at work, but also in your private life. How can each and every one of us do something about these important issues in our everyday lives? What everyday eco-life hacks are most important to you?
There are four major levers I use in my day-to-day work to minimize emissions.
- Mobility - no airplane, very little car, use bicycle and train instead.
- Housing - few square meters per capita (30), economical heating with renewable energies
- Consumption - buy little, buy used, enjoyment through experiences instead of purchases
- Food - regional, seasonal, organic, vegetarian with small amount of dairy products and egg
This means that personal decisions can already reduce the ecological footprint by almost as much as is needed in industrialized nations to limit warming to 1.5°C.