What makes carbon credits "additional" in Alberta?
Updated: Jun 10, 2022
One of the more technical questions we sometimes get asked is "are these carbon credits additional?"
The short - and happy - answer is yes, they most certainly are!
A longer answer follows.
First, let's unpack the word "additionality". It's standard parlance in the world of carbon credits but may be unfamiliar to many readers. Additionality is the concept that, for something to be worth crediting, it must be "additional" to what would have happened anyway.
There are several ways of measuring additionality, and all carbon offset systems do this differently. In Alberta, additionality is governed by the Provincial Government's "Technical Guidance for the Assessment of Additionality" and is, with a few exceptions, assessed by project type (what are called Protocols in Alberta) rather than by individual project. So if the project type (in our case, micro-generation renewable energy systems) is additional there is no need to test each individual project.
In assessing additionality, the first thing to confirm is that the activity to be credited was not required by law, regulation, by-law or directive. This is known as legal additionality. Installing solar PV or wind turbines in AB isn't the law (although some jurisdictions have mandated solar PV for new-build as of next year, such as California and Berlin).
In Alberta, the second thing to check is the "penetration rate". Which basically means checking whether or not the activity to be credited is already common practice. If it is, no carbon credits. If it isn't, all good. (Look at this way: we should be crediting innovation and early adoption, not giving credit to laggards who are catching up!). Alberta typically uses a penetration rate of 40% to assess common practice. While the number of micro-generators in Alberta is steadily growing, it's a long way off from this threshold.
Additionality is assessed by the government every 5 years. As micro-generation is neither a legal requirement nor common practice, as an activity it is additional in the Alberta carbon market and therefore qualified to create carbon offset credits!
The best way to create your micro-generator carbon offset credits is by joining Solar Offset.