Green-e Climate Protocol for Renewable Energy

Currently active protocol, part of the Green-e Climate program (as of 1/2011).

Green-e Climate Protocol for Renewable Energy is being updated. (November 2010)

Market Size and Scope
Offset Project Eligibility
Additionality Requirements and Project Methodologies
Project Approval Process


Type of Standard and Context

The Green-e Climate Protocol for Renewable Energy (Green-e CPRE) is a voluntary GHG offset project protocol developed by the Center for Resource Solutions (CRS), a non-profit organization based in California.  Projects approved under the Green-e Climate Protocol for Renewable Energy are eligible to supply emissions reductions to Green-e Climate certified offset products. The Green-e Climate program (see Green-e Climate) is a certification and consumer protection program for carbon offsets sold to consumers in the voluntary offset market. All Green-e programs are administered by CRS.

The Green-e Climate Protocol for Renewable Energy (Green-e CPRE) is a voluntary GHG offset protocol that certifies grid-connected renewable energy projects in the United States to sell GHG offsets:

The intention of this Protocol is to bring additional credibility to the market for GHG emission reductions derived from renewable energy project activities. By establishing clear guidelines, informed by stakeholders, on the greenhouse gas claims that can be made from renewable energy projects, the Protocol will help further the development of the voluntary market for renewable energy. The Protocol addresses the issues of tracking, additionality, double counting and double claiming in order to ensure that the greenhouse gas benefits from eligible renewable energy projects are real, surplus, measurable, verifiable and additional (Green-e, 2007).

Standard Authority and Administrative Bodies

The Green-e CPRE is governed by the Green-e Governance Board and administered by CRS. The Green-e Governance Board is comprised of representatives from environmental organizations, consumer groups, public policy advocates, regulatory agencies and offset market experts. To avoid conflicts of interest, marketers and sellers with Green-e certified productsdo not have a vote but they are represented through a non-voting seat.

Regional Scope

The Green-e CPRE is specific to projects in the electricity sector in the US.

Recognition of Other Standards/ Linkage with Other Trading Systems

The Green-e CPRE is an Endorsed Program of the Green-e Climate certification program.

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Market Size and Scope

Tradable Unit and Pricing Information

Green-e Climate certified VERs are in units of 1 metric ton of CO2e. If offsets are sold in quantities other than metric tons (e.g. pounds or short tons of CO2e), the Program requires that a conversion equivalent to metric tons be provided.


Buyers of Green-e Climate certified offsets are individuals, organizations and companies.

Current Project Portfolio

As of January 2011, there were 19 approved facilities. A list of renewable energy projects that have been approved under the Green-e CPRE can be found here.

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Offset Project Eligibility

Project Types

The following project renewable energy types are accepted under the Green-e CPRE:

  1. Wind Power
  2. Solar Photovoltaics (PV) and Solar Thermal Electric Power.
  3. Hydropower from either new generation capacity (see Start Date below) on a non-impoundment, or new generation capacity on an existing impoundment, must meet one or more of the following conditions:
    • The hydropower facility is certified by the Low Impact Hydropower Institute; or
    • The facility is a run-of-the-river hydropower facility with a total rated nameplate capacity equal to or less than 5 MW. Multiple turbines will not be counted separately and cannot add up to more than a 5 MW nameplate capacity; or
    • The hydropower facility consists of a turbine in a pipeline or a turbine in an irrigation canal.
  4. Geothermal electric generation facilities with no direct emission of GHGs.
  5. Gaseous biomass from landfill gas methane, wastewater methane and digester methane derived from waste biomass fuels used to generate electricity. No biomass in a liquid or solid state will be allowed unless all of the following conditions are satisfied:
        • The biomass fuel is a surplus waste or byproduct of a commercial or industrial activity,
        • The project utilizing the waste or byproduct biomass fuel has been certified by another Green-e Climate Endorsed Program for non-electricity generation project components, (see the Green-e CPRE for more details) and
        • The biomass appears on the list of eligible fuels below:
          • Woody waste (see the Green-e CPRE for more details);
          • Agricultural crops or waste; and
          • Animal and other organic waste.
      • Ocean thermal, wave and tidal power.

New and emerging technologies not included in the above list will be considered on a case-by-case basis by the Green-e Governance Board.

Project Locations

Projects must be located in the US.

Project Size

Hydropower facilities have to be smaller than 5 MW or be certified by the Low Impact Hydropower Institute. No size restrictions apply for other project types.

Start Date 

Eligible facilities cannot have been operational before January 1, 2005.

Crediting Period

The maximum crediting period is 15 years.

Only GHG reductions resulting from generation of renewable energy that occurred on January 1, 2007 or later are eligible. In addition, a Green-e Climate certified product using the Green-e CPRE as its Endorsed Program may include only GHG reductions from renewable energy generation that occurred in the calendar year in which the certified offset is sold, the first three months of the following calendar year or the last six months of the prior calendar year.

Co-benefit Objectives and Requirements

In general, the Green-e CPRE does not require any additional co-benefits of the projects that seek certification. The exceptions are the Low Impact Hydropower Institute certification requirements of hydro projects.

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Additionality Requirements and Project Methodologies

Additionality Requirements

The Renewable Facility is NOT eligible if:

  1. It was mandated by a local, state or federal government agency or was required under any legal requirement or settlement.
  2. It became operational, or was repowered before January 1, 2005.
  3. The technology used in the GHG project is not included in the list of eligible technologies which have been shown to be beyond business as usual by falling within the top percentile(s) of net GHG emission rates for similar technologies and practices producing the same or similar goods or services as the GHG project. Analysis of the US electricity sector to support the performance and technology additionality test can be found in Appendix A of the Green-e CPRE.
  4. It was built as a least-cost facility when compared with non-renewable energy facilities.
    • However, if a marketer or generator can demonstrate to the Green-e Governance Board that the revenue from the sale of RECs or GHG credits was a determining factor in the facility being determined the least-cost option the facility is eligible for certified GHG reductions. The demonstration that the sale of RECs or GHG emission reductions deemed a facility least cost under an Integrated Resource Planning (IRP) process is only required for least-cost facilities under an IRP process. Green-e Climate is not requiring a financial additionality test on project eligibility (Green-e, 2007).
  5. It is located within a region with a legally binding GHG cap set for the electricity sector and no GHG allowances are allocated to the facility or no other mechanism exists to credit greenhouse gas emissions reductions benefits to the facility. The annual Green-e Climate recertification process will include verification that the facility still satisfies the Legal and Regulatory Test. Furthermore, regulatory changes may also trigger revisions to the Protocol itself.
  6. The owner of a renewable generation facility is reporting direct GHG emissions in a legally binding cap and trade program.
  7. If allowances are allocated to the facility, the allowances must be retired on behalf of the purchaser in order for the facility to be eligible under this protocol. A facility that sells a share of its RECs in compliance markets is eligible for GHG emission reductions from the remaining share of its generation provided that it meets all the requirements of this protocol.

Project Methodologies

The emission reductions are calculated using regional Baseline Emission Rates (BERs). For baseload technologies (i.e. firm power activities including biomass, geothermal, ocean thermal and hydro), the BER reflects the emission rates of the planned capacity additions in the US (the build margin) and for non-baseload technologies (i.e. non-firm power activities including solar, wind, wave, and tidal), the BER is an average of the emission rates of the build margin and the currently operating grid connected electricity generation facilities (the operating margin). (The build margin represents the emissions reduction that occurred because the renewable generation was built instead of a business-as-usual plant, while the operating margin estimates the effect of backing down other generating facilities when the renewable energy facility is operating and generating power.) Baseload emission rates are developed for different regions. The BERs used have been developed using US EPA eGRID data. The BERs will be updated at least every three years and posted on the Green-e Climate website.

The quantification approach is based on the World Resources Institute's GHG Protocol: Guidelines for Quantifying GHG Reductions from Grid-Connected Electricity Project.

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Project Approval Process

Validation and Registration

Every project approved under the Green-e CPRE has to go through an initial review, which establishes that the project meets the requirements of the Green-e CPRE. Depending on the characteristics of the facility, this can include interviews with project developers, review of federal, state and utility regulatory documents, specific reporting procedures to GHG registries, siting documents and/or contractual requirements; as well as details of how the project addresses additionality.

Monitoring, Verification and Certification

Since the Green-e CPRE establishes common factors for each technology type dependent on the region in which it is located, the emission reductions can be directly calculated from the electricity generation. To address the risk of double counting, Green-e CPRE has developed reporting procedures for generators participating in GHG registries. In addition, contractual ownership has to be documented.

Registries and Fees

Ownership of GHG emission reductions are documented, in part through the use of electronic tracking systems for RECs. Generators wishing to participate in this program must have all generation reported to an eligible tracking system.


The fees for certifying facilities according to the Green-e CPRE are paid by the company that is selling Green-e Climate certified offsets from a specific facility. The company has to pay a USD 3,000 Endorsed Program fee annually, in addition to the USD 6,000 base certification fee, for use of the Green-e CPRE.

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