Summary:

Eco labels have worked well in some cases, such as organic food, but will they work for renewable energy? The wind energy industry thinks so and proposed a program Wednesday to encourage companies to invest in wind and display their eco-friendly cred.

WindMade logo

Some eco labels have been useful marketing tools, such as for organic food, but will they work for clean power? The wind energy industry thinks so and proposed a program Wednesday to encourage companies to invest in wind and display their eco-friendly cred.

Wind energy trade associations representing U.S. and other global companies unveiled rules for getting a WindMade label, which will allow participating businesses worldwide to display their investments in wind energy and hopefully attract more customers in the process. The trade groups also are working on another label, which will be given out with a different set of rules, that will let companies actually slap the WindMade labels on their goods.

The rules for the initial label, which will be open for public comment for the next two months, will require companies to get at least 25 percent of their electricity from wind. Businesses can fill that quota three ways: buy wind power through power purchase agreements, install their own wind turbines, or buy renewable energy credits associated with wind farms. Participants will have to get third-party verification for their wind electricity consumption, and they will pay for related costs.

WindMade proponents plan to finalize the certification rules for the first label this fall.

The idea for WindMade made its public debut earlier this year at a renewable energy conference in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Vestas Wind Systems in Denmark, the world’s largest wind turbine giant, is the key proponent of the label and started working on the concept last year. The idea is now being promoted by a new nonprofit, also called WindMade, along with organizations such as the American Wind Energy Association, Global Wind Energy Council, and World Wildlife Fund.

“We believe WindMade gives a company a great opportunity to increase renewable and be transparent about what they do which is important for us,” said Stephan Singer, director  of global energy policy, World Wildlife Fund, during the press conference Wednesday.

The rules for getting the WindMade certification went through a review board that included companies such as Walmart, Better Place and Dong Energy, but WindMade promoters declined to say on Wednesday which businesses will sign up to get the label.

Walmart is no stranger to the eco labeling idea. Back in 2009, Walmart announced a plan to assess the carbon footprint of the manufacturers it buys from and stick labels on its merchandise to show the products’ environmental impact. More and more manufacturers are touting their products’ eco-friendly features on the packaging, and this practice has caught the attention of government regulators and stirred skepticism from consumers.

WindMade proponents believe the label program will be a big success and point to a growing number of companies, such as Ikea, that invest in wind energy. It would be a coup if the advocates can get Google to embrace the labeling scheme. Google has become a big investor in wind power plants and has secured the authority to buy and sell wind power in the wholesale market.

Aside from creating labels for wind energy only, the wind trade groups are considering labels that will show a mix of renewable electricity being used by a company. They also are working on a label that can be put on retail products – developing rules for this label will be trickier because issues such as carbon footprint of the various components suppliers will likely have to be considered.

Image courtesy of WindMade

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