Google said it was working to “develop and deploy at scale” a tool that will allow governments, businesses and energy system operators to track renewable electricity production and consumption in real time.

Picture: Google Cloud

The tech giant launched the tool, called Time-Based Energy Attribute Certificates (T-EAC), last March. The purpose of the tool is to improve clean energy certification; Most organizations using 100% renewable electricity do not use the electricity directly, but purchase Renewable Energy Guarantees of Origin (REGOs) to prove that a utility is generating the equivalent of electricity. clean energy consumed by the buyer.

REGOs – known as CERs in the US – are “an outdated approach to solving an increasingly nuanced problem,” Google said. T-EACs, on the other hand, provide more granular data – often hour by hour.

“This information will help energy consumers better understand their energy use, while empowering governments and grid operators to develop faster and more cost-effective decarbonization strategies,” the statement read. from Google. He adds: “Perhaps most excitingly, it will also create price signals that will spur new investment in technologies and projects that deliver carbon-free energy when it is most needed, accelerating decarbonisation. across all electrical networks. »

Google today (March 15, 2022) released an update on the development of T-EAC, touting solid progress and the potential for “widespread adoption” in the near future.

He confirmed that trial projects are underway in the United States, Denmark and Chile. In the United States, Google works with M-RETS, a non-profit organization specializing in energy certificates, and APX, an environmental technology provider. These collaborations mean that power producers in the central and midwestern United States will soon be able to obtain data on an hourly basis and generate certificates just as quickly. Likewise, this data and certificates option will be open to the Danish national grid operator Energinet.

Google’s work on T-EACs in Chile, meanwhile, focused on matching the energy demands of its data center with certified clean energy on an hour-by-hour basis. Google has been using 100% renewable electricity to power operations since 2017, but this is due to REGOs and RECs as well as self-generation, rather than 24/7 real-time generation at the outside. The company aims to match all operational electricity consumption with 24/7 clean generation by 2030.

Another data center-focused project is led by Google and software provider FlexiDAO. It was set up to simplify the process of aggregating energy data in Denmark, the Netherlands and Ireland, thereby streamlining the processes by which Google matches energy demand with clean energy production.

Standardized follow-up

Google believes that, given increasing corporate support for carbon neutrality and countries, including the US and EU member states, the use of T-EAECs may soon grow. generalize.

The benefits of this, beyond verifying green claims, are being touted as increased investment in “high impact” clean energy projects and emerging related sectors like green hydrogen. Governments could also use the data to incentivize businesses and homeowners to buy clean energy.

Nevertheless, Google stated that “there is a risk that many sets of tools, definitions and technical specifications proliferate simultaneously, resulting in a fragmented ecosystem and a lack of interoperability”. It’s not the only company working on hourly energy data and certificates.

Google has therefore awarded a €530,000 (£445,500) grant to EnergyTag, which is developing a new international standard for T-EACs. He also secured a seat on EnergyTag’s advisory board. EnergyTag is expected to release official guidelines for the standard in the coming months.

Additionally, Google has joined the Linux Foundation’s LF Energy project as a strategic member. The project is building an open source global database of energy production and consumption. Google’s involvement is part of the project on the development of hourly collection and verification of energy data.

Sarah Georges