What problem are you solving?
Climate change is no longer a distant threat to be debated, but is now a very present reality. The last two jarring IPCC reports have issued what U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres described as a “code red for humanity”. Reports like these have highlighted just how important it is to cull the burning of fossil fuels — the chief driver of the climate crisis — immediately, and transition into a sustainably-powered world. To reach the net-zero emissions targets set forth in the UN’s famous Paris Agreement, annual clean energy investment needs to increase by seven times, from less than $150 billion in 2020 to more than $1 trillion per year by 2030.
Yet not only is there stagnancy in the investment, the world’s dependency on fossil fuels is set to get even worse in the coming decades. Fossil fuel subsidies still outweigh their clean fuel counterparts by ten-to-one. Despite science mapping a clear path to success, many markets haven’t agreed to turn off the taps of fossil fuel reservoirs.
Why, you ask? Financing renewable energy project development remains challenging because of the cost-structure of low-carbon power: high upfront capital investments and regulation that still heavily favors fossil fuels, make the latter more attractive for investors. Additionally, rapid urbanization has led to approved build-outs of new fossil fuel power plants in emerging markets, where they are even less likely to attract new capital to underwrite renewables.
Reneum is trying to solve that problem by providing stable revenue streams and capital to those projects. Using the power of the blockchain to mobilize and redirect capital where it is needed most, Reneum can directly power the energy transition.
How does Reneum work?
Reneum is a green energy marketplace designed to fund climate initiatives, starting with the energy transition. What that means (in fewer buzzwords) is that we issue RENW tokens to renewable energy projects that represent their environmental benefit, as a form of green value, which they can monetize for an additional revenue stream. This revenue makes projects more profitable, which in turn sends a price signal to investors and incentivizes new project buildout. Buyers purchase the tokens for climate action, ESG commitments or government mandates to receive a collectible, 'verified green' NFT, acting as a proof-of-commitment.
The NFT, called the Eisbaer, earns its owner entry into the Reneum ecosystem, an incubator for climate positive projects where stakeholders participate actively in commercial decisions and can vote on new climate initiatives that matter to them.
What is the impact potential of Reneum?
The energy transition is the most impactful and most straightforward lever to activate for climate change, while the biggest impediment to achieving the energy transition is stagnant or misappropriated capital. Renewable energy uptake is often hamstrung by the inability of developers to secure financing from capital markets, particularly in many of the parts of the world that most need and want it. Reneum can help bridge the financing gap and play a crucial role in driving necessary investment. Blockchain-based tokens have proven to be a unique tool to distribute capital efficiently and Reneum mobilizes this technology to send a wall of money to project developers, in turn driving further investment. By issuing tokens directly to the renewable energy project owners globally to help them access this revenue stream, Reneum directly impacts the success of the energy transition.
Doesn’t the blockchain consume a lot of energy? How do you mitigate its environmental impact?
As a sustainability initiative, we would be remiss if we didn’t address the environmental impact of minting tokens on the blockchain. Considering the growing concern of energy impact on Layer 1 tokens due to mining, Reneum will be minting tokens on Polygon’s side chain – which calls itself the eco-friendly blockchain – creating a significant footprint reduction due to its use of proof-of-stake mining. As per their website, the “total year energy consumption [per mint] turns out to be 788,400KWh, which is multiple orders of magnitude below proof-of-work-based blockchain miners.” Furthermore, by utilizing the upgraded NFT standard ERC 721A, RENW tokens are among the most energy-light on the blockchain.
Reneum will also be check-pointing tokens to Ethereum, which at the time of writing still utilizes the proof-of-work protocol. However, the fungible RENW launch is slated to occur towards the end of 2022, which we anticipate to follow the Ethereum MainNet transition to proof-of-stake.
All that being said, Reneum intends to operate an entirely net neutral platform, meaning that all emissions will be calculated annually across Reneum’s entire supply chain, including token transaction, employee travel and operative footprint and offset via a purchase of RENW. Both the calculation inputs and the offsetting claim will be publicly available on Reneum’s site.
Why do you use blockchain instead of a centralized database?
Environmental markets have been around for a while and they’re still not working. Centralized databases, limited by their related bureaucratic processes and non-interoperable nature, have stifled adoption and led to bottlenecks in scale. From a user perspective, there are minimal differences between using a traditional centralized registry and a blockchain-based platform, but from a data management and reporting perspective, blockchain avails benefits previously impossible with centralized registries. Such benefits include:
No single point of failure
Fewer data management bottlenecks, including faster certification time
Automated transaction capabilities which streamline processes and minimize transaction fees
Easily-auditable history of transactions suitable for government reporting and data integrity
Facilitation of a global marketplace in an industry that has traditionally been localized
The interoperable and open-source chain mitigates against ‘double spending’
What is a REC?
RECs embody the positive environmental attributes of one megawatt-hour (MWh) of underlying electricity produced from a renewable source. RECs are a reliable source of immediate income which the renewable energy company can reinvest directly into expanding their portfolio, allowing them to establish cost-competitiveness in an ever-saturated market and overcome the hurdle of finding upfront financing. Reneum’s objective is to increase cash flow stability to project developers so that they can reinvest faster and with larger volumes.
RECs reduce Scope 2 emissions associated with purchased thermal electricity and thus support the acceleration of the energy transition. RECs can also be purchased separately from the underlying electricity generated and independently matched with electricity consumption, ideal in locations where green energy is not offered on the grid or where policy support for renewable energy projects is lacking.
RECs work by acting as bridge finance, subsidizing existing operations and stimulating new development. According to the GHG Protocol – the best practice for emissions management standards - offsetting energy consumption powered by fossil fuels should be done by the purchase of RECs. For this reason, the GHG Protocol recommends that blockchain- based companies, cryptocurrency miners and cryptocurrency owners or traders, should use RECs to offset their footprint.
What are the key differences between Carbon Offsets and RECs?
While both offsets and RECs can help an organization lower its emissions footprint, they are different instruments used for different purposes. Think of offsets and RECs as two different tools in your sustainability tool box; depending on your use case, you may buy one or both of them. Both offsets and RECs represent the environmental benefits of certain actions that can help mitigate Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions. Offsets represent a metric ton of emissions avoided or reduced; RECs represent the positive environmental attributes of renewable electricity generation. These two different instruments have different criteria for qualification and crediting in the context of an inventory or emissions footprint.
It is worth noting that for offsetting energy consumption powered by fossil fuels, the best practice is to purchase RECs. This addresses the Scope 2 component of emissions management.