I-REC: The new Renewable Energy Certificates

Renewable energies play a fundamental role in transitioning to a sustainable and low-carbon economy. This is because this type of energy has a smaller carbon footprint than fossil fuels, which are used conventionally. 

Particularly in Argentina, according to the latest national greenhouse gases (GHG) inventory (2021), 51% of the country’s total GHG emissions come from the energy industry. 

In this context, renewable energy certificates come into play, particularly I-RECs, those that comply with the certification granted by the International REC standard Foundation. In this article, we will tell you in depth what I-RECs are, the advantages of acquiring them, and what requirements have to be fulfilled by renewable energy projects that wish to issue these certificates. 

Importance of renewable energy production 


Energy accounts for 73.2% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. This is why the energy industry plays a fundamental role in the decarbonization necessary to combat the causes that currently generate climate change. 

Of these emissions, 22% corresponds to the energy consumed in different forms of transportation, 24% in residential buildings, 32% in industry, and 9% in commerce. So then, to combat climate change, all of these operations must find ways to decarbonize. This could be achieved precisely through the use of renewable and low-carbon energies. And this is where I-RECs play a key role. 

It is often said that one of the barriers to achieving this transition is the high cost of renewable energy. However, the cost of generating this type of energy is no longer an issue. Due to significant technological advances, the price of solar energy has fallen by 80% in the last 10 years. According to an IEA report, solar energy is currently the cheapest way to produce electricity. Its cost is even lower than that of wind power and natural gas. 

Renewable energy certificates also represent a major player in the cost of energy. This is because they are projects that are partially financed through the sale of these certificates, or I-RECs in the case of Argentina. 


Operation of renewable energy I-REC certificates.
Operation of renewable energy I-REC certificates.

What are I-RECs? 


I-RECs are renewable energy certificates that exist both in Argentina and in other markets. An I-REC refers to a certificate with information on renewable electricity production. This certificate has a unique identification containing data that endorses the origin of the energy acquired. 

 I-REC certificates are generated by energy service providers accredited by the I-REC Standard Foundation. Using these certificates allows companies to offset GHG emissions through a mechanism accepted by international standards. 

Each I-REC certificate represents 1 MWh of power generated from renewable sources, such as 

solar, wind or biogas. 

 To see the designations of I-REC certificates in other regions, we recommend you read the section “International renewable energy certificate market” of our article “Renewable Energy Certificates 

what they are and what they are used for”. 


I-REC Standard in Argentina 


The I-REC Standard Foundation is a non-profit organization that administers a standard for tracking renewable energy attributes. This foundation currently operates in more than 40 countries around the world. 

In April 2021, the foundation landed in Argentina with IRAM. As of today, it already has endorsed various renewable energy generation plants to market renewable energy certificates. A company that acquires I-RECs does so mainly to reduce its GHG Scope 2 emissions (emissions related to electricity consumption). This is because, based on these certificates, the company can affirm that the energy it consumes does not come from fossil fuels but only from renewable sources. 

Finally, it is important to note that by purchasing I-RECs, companies are not buying energy, but rather the attributes of the renewable energy injected into the grid. All international standards for carbon footprint measurement, such as GHG Protocol, CDP, Carbon Trust, and Science Based Targets, among others, endorse this mechanism.  

Which projects are eligible to issue I-RECs? 

If a renewable energy production plant wishes to issue I-RECs, the first thing it must do is register its plants in the I-REC system. Then, to be eligible, they must go through an audit process carried out by IRAM. In this process, the audit organization analyzes each plant’s specific conditions and operations. Once the audit process is completed, I-REC Standard endorses the plant to issue certificates and commercialize them.  

The following items summarize which plants are eligible to issue I-RECs: 


Eligibility criteria for a renewable energy project to be able to issue I-RECs 


  • Self-generation plants, which fall within the framework of law 27.424 on distributed generation, may issue certificates but not market them. In other words, they must redeem them (award the attributes of renewability) in favor of the same user-generator.
  • Those renewable generation plants not recognized by law 27.191, may issue and trade certificates for 100% of the energy they inject into the grid.
  • Those renewable generation plants that are recognized by law 27.191 may issue and trade certificates as long as they comply with the requirements established by the I-REC Standard Foundation (see image below).
  • Renewable energy projects eligibility. Source. I-REC Standard Foundation
    Renewable energy projects eligibility. Source. I-REC Standard Foundation

    I-RECs and the need to involve the private sector in the use of renewable energies 

    The private sector is one of the main drivers of the climate change we are experiencing today. As mentioned above, according to Our World in Data, industrial and commercial activities account for no less than 41% of global GHG emissions. 

    That is why hundreds of companies have already set GHG emissions reduction targets and carbon neutrality commitments for 2030 and 2050. Operating with renewable energies is one of the most widely used ways to reduce GHG emissions. However, on-site production is not always possible for companies. The good news is that they can overcome this by purchasing renewable energy certificates, which allow the mitigation of their Scope 2 emissions while declaring that the energy used by the company comes from renewable sources, not from fossil fuels. 


    How to buy renewable energy certificates? 

    If you want to reduce your company’s emissions through the purchase of renewable energy certificates with BIOREC+, you can check out our MARKETPLACE. 

    If you have any questions, please contact us.


    The arrival of the I-REC Standard in Argentina opens up new possibilities in the energy market for both 

    renewable energy generators and users. These certificates are a great opportunity for companies to operate with renewable energies through an economical and flexible mechanism. This represents an encouragement for actions that allow companies to reduce their carbon footprint, thus helping to achieve the carbon neutrality that the world needs. 

    The BIOREC+ label  


    BIOREC+ is an ecolabel issued by CARBON NEUTRAL+ that guarantees that they are operating with renewable energy through Renewable Energy Certificates issued by the I-REC Standard. The “plus” is linked to the fact that 1/3 of the funds are used to ensure local impact through the financing of renewable energy projects in vulnerable areas. In this case, in Argentina, CARBON NEUTRAL+ is working with the Ecoandina Foundation to install solar water heaters in community kitchens and rural schools to replace wood-burning stoves. 


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