I-REC Standard Foundation Interview with Dirk Van Evercooren

Jan 3, 2022

The International REC Standard Foundation Board has recently approved Dirk Van Evercooren as a member. It is an enormous pleasure to welcome Dirk to the Board and we within the secretariat are looking forward to cooperating with Dirk on all aspects relevant to the I-REC Standard Foundation (I-REC Standard) and their Accredited products. Dirk is currently the General Director of the Organization for Sustainable Energy in Flanders, Belgium, and the former President of the European Association of Issuing Bodies (AIB). His experience will undoubtedly be a huge value to the I-REC Standard and the development and implementation of the International Attribute Tracking Standard.

We took the opportunity to interview Dirk to discuss, not just him becoming a new I-REC Standard Board member, but his experience and background with EAC systems and his thoughts, ideas, and predictions for the future of the I-REC Standard and associated, Accredited markets.

You’ve been involved with the development and coordination of EAC systems for quite some time. What have you learned in that time that you can bring forward to the I-REC Standard Foundation?

The concept of the Energy Attribute Certificate is a fascinating one. And it is my experience that some people simply cannot embrace the thinking behind EACs, because it is – it must be said – quite an abstract one. People often fall back on analogies that simply don’t work when you apply them to electricity, the original tracked attribute. From that, they conclude either that EACs for electricity don’t make sense or that they are contributing to unreliable claims. That is a pity, as I am sure that Guarantees of Origin, I-REC Standard Accredited certificates, US-RECs, etc. are making a significant impact for the better and improving the clarity associated with claims. I have learned a lot by taking up activities in the AIB and I continue to believe in the positive impact that EACs have in delivering us a more sustainable world.

Additionally, expanding on concepts we learned over the last 20-years to other energy or non-energy carriers will soon be very relevant. We know from electricity EACs that we need a clear way to measure and confirm ownership; this is best done through accounting instruments and understanding responsibility. EACs for all products will play a critical role in this, and increased harmonization – a core value of the I-REC Standard – will simplify this for all stakeholders.

Based on your background, what projects are you most proud of or had the greatest impact in EAC markets around the world?

The biggest achievement that I am aware of is a collective one: all the people working with EACs all over the world talking to governments, regulators, and legislators, companies, NGOs, and the public to explain this concept. In doing so, they are raising awareness that the choices you make as a household, a company, a public authority, etc. do have an impact and that everyone plays a role. By using EACs to track the origin of energy, they are creating transparency and holding decision-makers and end-users accountable for the consumption choices. That is quite an achievement.

What does the new role as Board member of the I-REC Standard mean for you? What is exciting about the position?

I initially began working with the I-REC Standard in an observatory Board member position. What I realized was how different the market dynamics and regulatory frameworks are for the activities of I-REC Standard in comparison to that of the Guarantees of Origin. So that was a very interesting insight and something I needed to adapt to. Within the I-REC Standard, we can impart lessons learned over the last 20-years in the GO and REC market development to ensure enormous and quick changes for the countries and governments we cooperate with. We can support them in avoiding some of the pitfalls of the system development – some pitfalls markets in Europe are still dealing with today. This is exciting and allows a unique opportunity to shape policy and support the development of in-demand technologies around the world.

As an acting Board member, discussions and feedback on developments inside the I-REC Standard and how they affect the associated, accredited markets are of great interest to me and I’m looking forward to seeing their evolution.

Recently the Board made the decision to create new, more expansive, and stakeholder-inclusive governance bodies. How do you think this step will impact the I-REC Standard Foundation, the Standard document, and the Codes they accredit?

The creation of governance bodies that are more open to stakeholders is very promising in that context, as it can allow business developments based on the I-REC Standard’s core principles in a much more focused way. Moreover, as an organization, we can now ensure that the principles the I-REC Standard has worked to create truly serve a purpose in bringing reliability to markets that people really want to see developed.

Do you have any predictions on the way things will be headed for the I-REC Standard, looking towards the development of new products and initiatives?

What we have learned and built over the past 20 years for electricity certification can and will be adapted soon for other energy carriers and potentially for commodities. Transparency and accountability are quickly becoming crucial building blocks for sustainable business processes and the I-REC Standard is very well suited to deliver those in a practical, pragmatic way. What is also coming, is standardization. Again, something the I-REC standard is very well suited to. The future is bright!