How (Truly) Green is Your Energy?

First of all, unless you have your own direct source of renewable electricity (and we will explore this in a later issue) you will be getting all of it from the National Grid. This is a given mixture of green and brown (from fossil fuels) and we can’t pick and choose at this point. But by choosing a good supplier and a green tariff we can increase the impetus for creating more sources of renewable energy. However, it is very difficult to find out what tariffs or suppliers are truly ‘green’ and some only appear green.

 Second, it is very important to know about ‘greenwashing. The background is that for every 1 megawatt of renewable energy created by a solar farm or another renewable energy generator, Ofgem, the energy regulator, issues an accompanying certificate called a ‘REGO. The renewable energy generator can then make their money either a) by selling the electricity itself or b) by selling the REGO. The certificate and the electricity won’t necessarily be sold together. So energy suppliers – especially the larger commercial ones – may buy the energy but not the REGOs. This means there can be a lot of REGOs leftover that other suppliers can buy to make their energy look green! So even if a supplier says they provide a “100% green tariff”, unless they clearly state on their website what their renewable energy sources are, these ‘green’ tariffs are likely to be using non-renewable i.e. greenhouse-gas-creating electricity.

So, armed with these important pieces of information, here is a brief guide. I will be looking at electricity. If you use gas then explore the same websites (below) for green gas suppliers. Not many suppliers provide green gas. 

Coming out top on many different sites is Green Energy UK which not only sources 100% of its electricity from renewable sources buying directly from the generators but they also have extra green tariff (the Dual Fuel EKOenergy tariff) which has further guarantees to protect the environment. If you can afford this, this is the greenest. 

The second best, with all energy sourced being renewable, are Ecotricity and Good Energy. Others that have a good proportion of green energy sources include Octopus, Bulb, Peoples’ Energy, E.ON and Scottish Power. 

Check customer satisfaction on all of these as well as comparing price. Octopus scores highly for customer satisfaction and Bulb is cheap.

Look at reliable independent sources of information on this. There is a very helpful Which article (see which lists and compares the greenest, quite green and poor suppliers and tariffs. Try their quiz! Choose UK also has helpful information (see as do the Energy Saving Trust .

There are over 300 energy companies so it is not possible to list them all here. If you find one, or someone recommends one to you, check what their sources of renewable energy are as well as customer satisfaction.

Finally we will all need to ‘go green’ sooner or later so, if you have not already done it, why not bite the bullet now!