• Graham Harris

Carbon Offsets, Grants, Incentives, Solar Club & RECs: Can You Claim More Than One?

Carbon offsets, grants for reducing emissions, greenhouse gas emission reduction loans, renewable energy credits, solar energy tariffs... when it comes to clean energy and incentives, there's a lot going on. It can be pretty confusing.


One of the most frequently asked questions that we get is what grants and incentives make solar and wind installation ineligible for SOLAR OFFSET?


In this blog post, we'll outline what you can, and what you cannot, claim if you want to join Solar Offset.


How do solar or wind grants and incentives relate to carbon offsets?

Under certain solar PV, wind power or clean energy grants and incentives you will find, buried in the legal Terms and Conditions, a clause that talks about "environmental attributes". This may state that the granting body claims the "environmental attributes" or "environmental credits" associated with the system being grant-funded.


What this means is that, as a condition of accepting the grant, the grant body is laying legal claim to the GHG emissions reduction from the system. This means that you cannot then create offset credits from the system – because that would be double-counting the benefits.


What about RECs? And what is a renewable energy credit?

RECs - or renewable energy credits - and offset credits are two different ways of measuring the environmental benefit of clean energy. Offset credits represent the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions not emitted due to your clean energy generation. Because you haven't emitted any GHGs, the offset credit can be sold to a third party, who uses it to meet government emission reduction targets. One offset credit is always worth one tonne of CO2.


RECs are similar. However, they represent the amount of clean energy generated itself, not the GHGs avoided. As such, one REC is always worth 1 MWh of clean energy generated.


Although they measure different aspects of your solar or wind power system, either credit represents the "green" qualities of your system's energy production. Which means you can't create both an offset credit and REC – that would be double-counting the benefit.


Do all grants and incentives forbid credit creation?

In short – no.


While claims about "environmental attributes" are standard practice with provincial government grants, numerous other grants and incentives do not make this claim. In these cases, you are happily free to benefit from both the grant and the SOLAR OFFSET program!


Under these schemes, you'll earn money from your solar panels and continue to enjoy the grant or incentive. (Of course, if you've already used a grant with claims to the RECs or offset credits, unfortunately, there's no way to change the wording retroactively).


However, for homeowners or businesses exploring their options, we always advocate considering grants and incentives that do not claim the GHG emissions reductions as a way of further improving the affordability of your PV or wind power system.


What solar grants and incentives allow you to create carbon offsets?

The following grants and incentives do not claim your environmental attributes. You can, therefore, receive one of these and still participate in SOLAR OFFSET:

  • Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) Agricultural Clean Technology Program

  • Alberta Co-operative Energy (ACE) - Spark Green Offset (this program involves you buying offsets to green your energy, not creating them)

  • Banff - Solar PV Rebate

  • Canada Greener Homes Grant (NRCan)

  • Calgary - Clean Energy Improvement Program (coming soon)

  • Canmore - Canmore Solar Incentive

  • Any Clean Energy Improvement Program (CEIP), such as those from Devon, Edmonton, Leduc and Rocky Mountain House - these are loans, not grants and don't lay claim to your environmental attributes

What solar grants and incentives mean you cannot create carbon offsets?

The following grants and incentives do claim your environmental attributes. Unfortunately, you cannot, therefore, receive one of these and still participate in SOLAR OFFSET:

  • Alberta Co-operative Energy (ACE) - Spark Green Generator (this program involves you creating RECs) - you can't create RECs and Carbon Offsets simultaneously - but if you used to create RECs and don't anymore, you may still be eligible. Contact us to discuss your specifics.

  • Edmonton - Solar Rebate Program

  • Energy Efficiency Alberta - Rebate Program (discontinued)

  • Energy Efficiency Alberta - Residential and Commercial Solar Program (discontinued)

  • ERA - Energy Savings for Business

  • EQUS / ReWatt Power - REC Program

  • Low Carbon Economy Fund (LCEF)

  • MCCAC - Alberta Municipal Solar Program (discontinued)

  • MCCAC - Solar for Schools

  • Medicine Hat - Solar Electric Incentive Program

  • Radicle Solar - Carbon Offsets

Can you join Solar Club and still create carbon credits?

Solar Club is a tariff specially designed for micro-generators that are exporting clean energy onto the AB grid. This is offered by many of our Partner utilities and is compatible with Solar Offset! So, you can take part in Solar Club AND Solar Offset!


Remember always to review your grant or incentives' T&Cs

Wherever you've secured your clean energy grant or incentive, you need to review the Terms and Conditions for the clauses described in this article. If in doubt, ask the grant or incentive provider for further details in writing.


If we've missed a grant, or you are not sure if you qualify or not, please reach out to us and let us know!


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