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Invented by Enron in 1997[1] to make their acquisition of the Zond wind energy company profitable, renewable energy certificates (RECs, called “green tags” by Enron and “renewables obligation certificates” [ROCs] in many countries) represent the “environmental benefit” of electricity sources deemed to be “green”. They are sold apart from and in addition to the actual energy.

The RECs allow their buyer to claim that their electricity comes from that specific source, even though all sources feed into the vast pool of the electrical grid and every user on that grid gets their electricity from the same mix of sources.

RECs are obviously worthless, a blatant monetization of “virtue signaling” (and of false virtue at that[2]).

  1. [1] “Emerging Markets for Renewable Energy Certificates: Opportunities and Challenges”, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, 2005
  2. Carbon emissions

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