In the course of the liberalization of the electricity market in Germany in the mid-1990s, the idea of a high-quality label for green electricity was born. Thus, in 1998, the Green Electricity Label was founded and launched on the market. Initiated by EUROSOLAR, BUND, NABU and other environmental and consumer associations, the association still pursues the vision of a 100 percent ecological and decentralized energy supply and the goal of providing transparent support for consumers in their choice of green electricity tariff. At the turn of the millennium, NATURSTROM AG was the first label recipient of the first green electricity label in Germany and also pioneered the first German biogas label when the green gas label was introduced in 2013.
The office in Bonn, established in 2006, is the contact for label recipients, takes on certification tasks and acts as an interface between environmental associations and the energy industry. More than 75 energy suppliers with over 90 green electricity tariffs, including 12 nationwide, are now certified with the Green Electricity Label. Thus, approximately 360,000 households are supplied with 1.16 terawatt hours of certified green electricity per year. There are also five biogas tariffs that have been awarded the Green Gas Label.
Investing in the energy transition
For every kilowatt-hour of green electricity certified sold, the suppliers invest a fixed subsidy amount in new energy transition projects. In the private customer segment, this is at least 0.5 cents/kWh. So far, more than 1,300 projects have been implemented, such as wind and PV plants, e-mobility, education and nature conservation. Some projects have recognized pioneering character: the solar plant of the student initiative Solar Powers e.V. on the TU Central Library in Berlin was awarded the German Solar Prize in 2018. The Aktiv-Stadthaus in Frankfurt, together with the Konstanz tenant electricity model, received the 2017 VKU Innovation Award. In both projects, the electricity from the in-house PV systems in the apartment building is sold to the residential tenants at a low price. In this way, tenants also benefit from the energy transition.
Projects outside Germany are also realized through certification with the Green Electricity Label, such as the PV system on the Nadezhda recreation center near Minsk (Belarus) for children from the Chernobyl region.
In total, more than 55 million euros have already flowed into support projects through the Green Electricity certification. Through this proportional support, the green electricity label triggered total investments of around 280 million euros in the energy transition over the past 20 years. On January 1, 2017, the Green Electricity Label of the environmental associations reduced the minimum subsidy amount for private customers to 0.5 cents and introduced a new component of 0.1 cents for large customers. In doing so, Grüner Strom Label e.V. is responding to current market conditions.
Focus areas: Electromobility and nature compatibility
The focus of the Green Electricity Label is on the pulse of the times and ranges from nature compatibility to electromobility. In 2018, for example, not only energy transition projects were supported by the Green Electricity Label for the first time, but also specific nature conservation and species protection measures.
The success of the nature-compatible energy turnaround is only conceivable with a transport turnaround based on the increased use of e-mobility. "E-mobility is particularly environmentally friendly when real green electricity is used. Electric vehicles that run on coal-fired power or are simply painted green with virtual green power certificates are only half-hearted contributions to the energy and traffic turnaround," explains Dietmar Oeliger, Chairman of Grüner Strom Label e.V. Green power label holders are now showing a whole range of activities in the growth market of electromobility - from infrastructure projects, to sharing offers for e-vehicles, to special retail tariffs. The focus here is on the combination with certified green electricity. Current examples include electric buses in Bonn, which are charged with certified green electricity, and Ionity, whose planned network of fast-charging stations on German highways will be operated with certified green electricity from Polarstern.
Environmentally friendly biogas - the Green Gas Label
The Green Gas Label is also developing further: a revised catalog of criteria has been in force since the beginning of 2018. The focus of the label is on biogas from biogenic residues such as kitchen waste or green waste from municipal management. In this way, the biogas label of the environmental associations is adapting to current developments in the industry and represents the wishes of many end consumers: According to its own, non-representative online survey, 95 percent of participants support biogenic residues as an environmentally friendly alternative to renewable energies.
The conclusion after 20 years of work in the energy transition is that sophisticated seals of approval continue to be important in the increasingly complex energy market: The eco-labels Green Electricity and Green gas not only offer consumers orientation in the market for green electricity and biogas, they also represent a quality feature for energy suppliers who offer high-quality green electricity and environmentally compatible biogas.
appeared in Solar Age 4-2018
Assembly of a wind turbine of the citizens' wind farm in Ramsthal. Citizens were able to participate financially in the project. (Photo: NATURSTROM AG)
Roof of the Central Library of the TU Berlin - now with a Green Electricity-subsidized photovoltaic system. (Photo: Solar Powers e.V.)
The Green Electricity Label also promotes the establishment of citizens' energy cooperatives, such as the BEG Köllertal. (Photo: BEG Köllertal)
Active townhouse in Frankfurt: Over the course of the year, more electricity is produced by solar energy than the residents consume. (Photo: Mainova AG, Frankfurt)