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Interview with Flore Belin from ERGaR

Wednesday, 15 July 2020

Flore Belin is the current Assistant Secretary General of ERGaR. Combined with her previous role in GRTgaz, a French gas Transmission System Operator (TSO), she has valuable experience regarding European gas and climate policy.

During our Biomethane webinar in May, many questions were posed by the audience regarding Guarantees of Origin and biomethane certificate schemes. Fortunately, Flore was on hand and kind enough to offer her expertise. We asked her some of the queries we received during the webinar, her responses are below.

1.       Can you please give us an overview about ERGaR, including the organisation's objectives and responsibilities.

The European Renewable Gas Registry (ERGaR) is a Brussels-based association that aims at enabling cross-border transfers of green certificates for biomethane and renewable gases.

We represent today 27 members from 15 European countries and from a wide range of activities in the gas sector such as renewable gas registries and industry associations, energy traders and gas DSOs/TSOs.

We also actively work for ERGaR to become a Europe-wide recognised organisation for administering and mass balancing volumes of biomethane virtually distributed along the European gas network.

2.       There appears to be some confusion regarding Biomethane Guarantees of Origin and Biomethane Certificates. Are you able to clarify the difference?

When it comes to certifying biomethane, various documents exist which serve specific purposes.

Biomethane Certificates have been administered by Biomethane Registries in several European countries for the past few years following the need for title-tracking of the green value of gas blends with both fossil and renewable origins injected into the national gas grid. The underpinning market rules have been developed based on national legislations and market initiatives mostly.

Recently, the added value of biomethane to tackle climate change and to provide a green product to consumers has attracted high interest which also brings along the need for a Europe-wide market of biomethane certificates. ERGaR has worked with the existing national Biomethane Registries to develop a harmonised certificate type that will be acceptable in all respective countries and will allow a secure and trustworthy title-transfer.

The “Guarantee of Origin (GoO)” is a specific certificate that is defined under Article 19 of RED II which will enter into force in July 2021. The purpose of the certificate is to disclose the (renewable) origin of the gas to the end consumer, via a Book and Claim system.

In our interpretation, RED II applies the term GoO to documents issued by government delegated bodies (the Issuing Bodies). In most EU member states, there are no Issuing Bodies currently mandated.

That is why in the meantime, ERGaR has developed the document “Certificate of Origin” (CoO) to make a distinction with the term Guarantee of Origin (GoO). The two documents are nearly identical as the CoO is a harmonised certificate type which allows the title transfer of the renewable character of renewable gas between all countries with a participating biomethane registry.

We think that other application purposes for renewable gases, which are not yet defined in European legislation, will gain importance and require secure, trustworthy, and transparent Europe-wide tracking systems.

The cross-border exchange of ERGaR CoOs will be launched in the near future.

3.       When it comes to gas transfers, ERGaR is associated with the deployment of a GoO registry, but also with European mass balancing- would you care to give some details on this?

ERGaR has different schemes in its portfolio to transfer gas: a Book and Claim scheme, and a Mass Balancing scheme.

ERGaR has developed the Book & Claim based scheme that enables the issuance of GoOs in the meaning of RED II, but also CoOs which may be exchanged for other purposes, as explained earlier.

In parallel, ERGaR is establishing an independent, transparent, and trustworthy documentation scheme for mass balancing of biomethane certified as sustainable biofuel and distributed through the European natural gas network. This specific scheme, called ERGaR RED MB, is dedicated to the requirements of the transport sector and allows us to track the sustainable character of the gaseous biofuel along the European gas grid, by inseparably attaching the Proof of Sustainability to the Biomethane Certificate.

This Mass Balance scheme needs to be approved by the European Commission as a voluntary scheme under Article 18 of the prevailing RED. The procedure for which is ongoing and we are optimistic to receive the recognition soon.

4.       The hydrogen economy has become an increasing topic of interest within European sustainability circles. Is ERGaR taking any special steps to incorporate hydrogen within its registries?

It is not without reason that our association is named European Renewable Gas Registry aisbl. We do plan to handle all renewable gases. We started with biomethane and our work today is focused on biomethane and the two mentioned schemes.

We are founding partners of the Horizon 2020 REGATRACE project that looks at creating an efficient trade system based on issuing and trading biomethane/renewable gas certificates. Not only will it strongly contribute to the uptake of the European common biomethane market, but it will also create an interplay between certificates from different renewable gas technologies with electric and hydrogen certificate systems.

We also participate in the revision of the European Standard EN16325 that aims at developing an accurate, reliable and fraud-resistant system of Guarantees of Origin (GO) for electricity, gas including hydrogen and heating & cooling. As part of this revision process, ERGaR works closely with the Association of Issuing Bodies (AIB) and CertifHy under the FaStGO project.

5.       The coronavirus pandemic has obviously had a large effect on businesses throughout the world, and the sustainable energy industry is not immune. Given ERGaR's role, do you have any interesting insights of the impacts on the EU biomethane markets?

We all hope that the Covid-19 pandemic will not slow down the development in the field of renewable gases. In this respect, we welcome and support the Green Recovery Plan of the Commission granting special attention to renewable gases.

5.       We have previously talked about ERGaR's role in the REGATRACE project with Dr. Kovacs, but ERGaR is also involved in the ENTSOG/GIE prime mover process. Are you able to give a brief overview of what this is, what specific role ERGaR plays in this?

The GO Prime Movers Group, co-chaired by ENTSOG and GIE, was created following the 31st Madrid Forum (2018) during which “renewable and low-carbon gases were broadly acknowledged as a significant and growing role in the energy transition. Additionally, it was agreed that a comprehensive EU wide scheme for GoO should be developed in the context of the RED II to support cross border trade.

A deliverable was provided to the European Commission during the 32nd Madrid Forum (2019) with recommendations on how to implement an EU-wide GoO scheme for renewable and low-carbon gases.

In order to shape the recommendations and proposals, ENTSOG / GIE set up a Prime Movers group gathering key stakeholders (among them ERGaR) who actively participate in the development of the GoO system. The Prime Movers group received a lot of interest and is now still ongoing to discuss GoOs and linked-topics such as GoO lifetime or GoO for bio-LNG. 

Interested in finding out more? Greenfact recently created a Biomethane (BM) add-on to its platform that provides market updates on European BM trades and  UK RGGO bid/offer prices. For more information and trial access please contact us.

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