You get what you buy!

When I buy macaroni at my local ICA supermarket, I expect the package to contain just that – macaroni. Which it always does. Furthermore, if I buy “Krav” eco-labelled macaroni I don’t expect to find that it contains traces of pesticides. There’s nothing particularly strange about any of this.

So how about when it comes to electricity? This is something one can argue about without end, and it’s into this hornet’s nest that I’m now stepping. The fundamental question to ask is whether electricity is special or not as a product. Electricity should naturally be regarded as a product just like any other. That is why regulations governing the guarantee of origin of electricity were brought in on December 1, 2010 (2010:601).  Put simply, this means that the company producing the electricity has the right to issue a certificate of origin for all electricity produced using a particular type of source. This certificate can be sold on but must be annulled once it reaches the end-customer so that it is not counted several times over. The aim of this entire legislative package is to support the use of energy from renewable sources. In the EU there is a directive on this issue which in Sweden was dealt with in government bill 2009/10:128 “Implementation of the Directive on Renewable Energy”. For anyone particularly interested in legislation, statistical data and legal texts, I recommend that you read this document in its entirety. For everyone else, what it all boils down to is that you get what you buy. Just as with the macaroni that I started off talking about.

That’s why it’s particularly important to see to it that you have a good agreement for your electricity. That is how you can be sure you are getting electricity with a small CO2 footprint and that you can make a significant contribution to cutting your CO2 emissions. For instance, Vattenfall’s electricity from hydro-power produces 6 g of CO2/kWh. If you recharge your Volvo C30 Electric with electricity from hydro-power, this corresponds to less than 1 g of CO2/km. The green-car limit is 120 g of CO2/km and the Swedish average for 2010 was 152.3 g of CO2/km (source: JATO)

You are probably familiar with the issues of marginal electricity, electricity from Danish coal-fired power stations and so on. These issues are very complex and should naturally be taken into account. But not by the customer. Marginal electricity is something that should be dealt with by the decision-makers and the power industry.

As the customer, you always get what you buy. That’s the law.

David Weiner, Volvo