Traceability is the next big frontier in demanding clean energy from source to socket, argues former IBM Global Smart Grid Systems Leader, Steve Hoy.  

by Steve Hoy

We track almost everything these days: packages, food, supply chains, even pets. But energy, especially clean energy, has remained obscure, hidden behind a confusing mesh of regulation, plans and wildly divergent pricing. When Texas suffered massive grid outages earlier this year, some consumers were smacked with eye watering electricity charges all because of this opaqueness. A US Army veteran, Scott Willoughby, found himself faced with a $15,000 bill just for keeping the lights on during the storm. 

This is about to change in a big way and the consequences for how we do business will be profound. In January, Larry Fink, CEO of Blackrock, flagging that his $7 trillion USD fund will be demanding measurable climate impact accountability from the companies it invests in, signaled the end for so-called “green washing.” Green certificates, aka renewable energy credits (RECs), have played their role in identifying how much energy is produced by clean generation sources. Now traceability technology is disrupting the old model, allowing us to see the source, the time and the price.

It’s only a question of time before RECs go the way of the fax. 

Big tech leading the way 

As influential as Fink is in global corporate governance, he isn’t the only one. Google, Microsoft, and, a few weeks ago, IBM have all come out with a commitment to 24/7 traceability of their clean energy purchasing to meet their Net Zero goals. Net Zero will actually be replaced with True Zero targets since it means households and businesses buying all their energy from renewable sources without offset certificates or other regulatory stopgaps.  These big tech leaders have recognised that certificates and offsets leave too much wriggle room for

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