Guarantee of origin
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Since electricity is a commodity, it used to be impossible to claim any specific quality for a particular quantity of electricity. However the use of Guarantees of Origin (GO or GoO) is changing this. The European Union is currently implementing a scheme which allows specific attributes to be assigned to particular quantities of electricity.
A Guarantee of Origin is similar to a label on a bottle: it carries information telling the consumer facts about the product. Controlling the information and the accuracy of the guarantee of origin is therefore of critical importance. A unique body (e.g. an electricity regulator or a transmission system operator) is usually granted this authority for a given domain.
In their most accomplished form, Guarantees of Origin are issued electronically for a controlled quantity of electricity generation (usually 1 GO per MWh), traded and redeemed (i.e. used) by suppliers as evidence to their customers of the quality of the delivered electricity. Generation from renewable energy sources is the most sought-after attribute. A new development concerns guarantees of origin for cogeneration heat plants (or CHP). Some countries already have guarantees of origin issued for all types of electricity generation (nuclear, coal, ...). Possible extensions also include fair-trade, CO2 statistics, ...
Guarantees of origin should not be confused with the Eugene Green Energy Standard or EKOenergy labelling scheme. Both provide consumers with more information about their power (transparency). However, Eugene and EKOenergy go further by requiring additionality. Besides, Eugene and EKOenergy are private initiatives whereas guarantees of origin arise from European regulations.