The European electricity market is developing quickly. Liberalisation, internationalisation, product differentiation… This fast evolution has created opportunities, but also a lot of confusion:
How does it work to change from one supplier to another? How is it possible to choose an electricity product if we are all on the same grid? Which supplier and what products should I choose? And if I have a green contract, how does this affect my personal CO2 emissions?
Today, these basic questions get very different answers in different parts of the EU. Different countries have different traditions and different public opinions. There are also big differences in the degree of integration into the European market. This is a problem for big international consumers, as well as for small local consumers. Most of the consumers buying green electricity, do so because they want to change something. But making a difference on the huge European market is quite difficult if consumers get different -and even contradictory- suggestions and advice in different countries.
Until recently, nobody was coordinating the positions of environmental organisations and consumer organisations. But this has now changed.
Towards a European approach
In 2010 Bellona Russia, the Estonian Fund for Nature, the Latvian Fund for Nature, the Finnish Association for Nature Conservation, Ecoserveis and AccioNatura from Spain as well as 100% Energia Verde and REEF from Italy joined forces to develop an international ecolabel for electricity.
The partners started the project RES-E – Creating a renewable electricity standard for Europe. From the start, transparency and involvement were important cornerstones of the process. RES-E followed the procedure prescribed by the ISEAL Code of Good Practice for Setting Social and Environmental Standards. The process was also inspired by the approach of the North American Green-e label.
Between September 2011 and September 2012, the over 400 stakeholders were consulted, from all stakeholder groups: producers, suppliers, consumers, environmental NGOs and authorities.
During the summer of 2012, the secretariat of the RES-E project compiled all reactions, suggestions and comments in a “Terms of Reference”. And from September to November 2012 it organised a public consultation about that text. Immediately after the end of that public consultation, the involved environmental organizations decided to create the EKOenergy Network. They also set up an Advisory Group, to comment once more on the plans. On 23rd of February 2013, the EKOenergy Board approved the text ‘EKOenergy – Network and label’.