On 29 April 2015, the RECs Market Meeting was held in Oslo to present the most relevant experiences about the latest developments in renewable energies, electricity tracking mechanisms, carbon accounting and disclosure systems. The conference also brought together high-level speakers to discuss European energy strategy and how a demand-driven renewable market will be a key issue for the next future. Furthermore, the most up-to-date and relevant information about the European renewable electricity market was showcased at the conference.
In this context, UIC participated in the panel on “Zero Carbon Trains in Europe”, moderated by Preben Munch of ECOHZ, where Gabriel Castañares Hernández, Senior Advisor of Energy and CO2, presented the development of the UIC Zero Carbon Project. Furthermore, this panel included speeches by Margrethe Sagevik of NSB and Remco Faas of the Eneco power company based in the Netherlands and which is involved in electricity origin projects with NS. All of them analysed the contributions of rail to sustainable transport and a low carbon economy through implementing renewable energies using green certificates markets and standards for reporting.
During this panel the speakers highlighted the need for the rail sector to stay ahead as the most environmentally-friendly mode of transport, with a clear reporting methodology avoiding green washing. Railways therefore have to increase their energy efficiency and renewable energy purchasing. The panel underlined the potential of rail transport as a huge consumer of electricity, able to change the market for renewable electricity and create genuine consumer-driven demand. In some local markets rail even has the opportunity to choose the type and location of renewable energy production.
Gabriel Castañares Hernández introduced the main gaps and inconsistencies detected in renewable energy reporting in the UIC Environmental Strategy Reporting System (ESRS) and how the development of the Zero Carbon Project has delivered commonly accepted rules to provide UIC members accepted ways of sourcing zero carbon products, allowing them to increase the use of renewable electricity and communicate it to customers.
The Zero Carbon Project develops the reporting of Guarantees of Origin (GOs) according to the GHG Protocol guidelines within the UIC Environmental Strategy to reduce CO2 with targets for 2030 and a vision for carbon-free rail by 2050. Renewable Energy is an important part of the strategy, and many railways already source a proportion of their energy from renewable sources. This project aims to avoid concerns by external stakeholders about accounting this energy as zero carbon with a solid accountability system. It is a subject that is politically and strategically important for UIC and its members.