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Green Energy Suppliers
Green energy has become more and more popular and the UK as a whole is generating more clean energy than ever before. In fact, according to the Energy Savings Trust nearly 50% of all the electricity produced in Britain in 2018 came from carbon-free sources. But what exactly is green energy and what does being a green energy supplier mean?
What is green energy?
Green energy is energy generated from renewable sources – in other words, sources that won’t ever run out. In most cases, this means energy comes from harnessing power from nature, for example through the sun (solar energy), wind (wind power) or water (hydro power).
In contrast, fossil fuels like oil and coal are not renewable, which means they will run out eventually. Although fossil fuels come from nature (from decomposed plant and animal remains) there is a limited supply. Experts estimate there is about 50 years’ worth of oil and gas left and 150 years’ worth of coal.
Fossil fuels also release carbon dioxide and other pollutants into the atmosphere which damages the environment and causes global warming, whereas ‘green energy’ is more environmentally friendly.
Is green energy expensive?
Renewable energy used to have a reputation for being expensive although this is slowly changing as technology has helped lower the cost. Thanks to global awareness, there’s also a growing demand from customers keen to reduce their impact on the environment.
Not only that, the government is also encouraging energy firms to invest in and source renewables as they pledge to cut the UK’s carbon emissions.
All of this means that the list of green energy suppliers is growing – ultimately benefitting you, the consumer.
Where do renewable energy companies get their energy from?
Green energy suppliers source renewable energy from a number of places:
- Solar – using the heat of the sun.
- Wind – harnessing the wind through turbines.
- Hydroelectric – using water to generate electricity through turbines.
- Biogas – also known as biomethane, this uses plant and food waste to generate carbon neutral gas.
- Geothermal – using steam to generate electricity.
Some green energy suppliers in the UK invest in renewables directly and generate their own while others buy them from smaller, independent renewable energy farms.
Are all green energy companies the same?
The short answer is no – green energy suppliers in the UK aren’t all the same and some could be considered ‘greener’ than others.
The reasons why can be complicated, but it essentially comes down to how firms are sourcing energy – known as their ‘fuel mix’. Some green energy suppliers generate their renewable power by investing in their own facilities – such as wind or solar farms. Others will buy all the renewable energy they need to meet customer demand directly from green energy farms.
Both these types of suppliers are probably the ‘greenest’ in the sense that they are genuinely sourcing (and investing) in renewable energy. The green energy suppliers that do this are usually very clear about where their energy comes from on their websites.
Suppliers who are ‘less green’ may use a combination of traditional fossil fuels and renewables.
At the other end of the scale, some suppliers don’t source any renewable energy at all. Instead, they buy something called a Renewable Energy Guarantee of Origins certificate or REGO for short.
Green energy producers are given a REGO for every megawatt of eco energy they produce (a megawatt provides an hour’s worth of power for around 2,000 homes in the UK). These producers can sell:
- The green energy they produce.
- The REGO certificate.
Not everyone buys both the energy and the REGO certificate together which leaves surplus certificates. The surplus is sold to suppliers who want to show they are investing in green energy but aren’t helping generate it themselves.
Is the energy coming into my home really green?
All the power coming into your home comes from the National Grid so all the energy from various sources are (essentially) all mixed together. It means that no matter who your energy provider is, the power you draw into your home comes from the same place.
So, when a green energy supplier says: ‘the electricity to your home is 100% green’ what they really mean is that they buy green energy from generators (or generate it themselves from their own farms).
The only way to ensure the energy coming directly into your home is green, is to generate it yourself – for example through solar panels.
What are green energy tariffs?
Green energy tariffs are energy plans that source some or all of the energy from renewables. Most suppliers will offer a green tariff alongside their other tariffs.
Is it worth buying energy from green energy suppliers?
It’s up to you whether you think it’s worthwhile switching to a green energy supplier. Creating demand for green energy can only encourage more and more suppliers to look at renewables which will in turn help lower the cost of green energy even more, but it isn’t necessarily the cheapest option yet.
It also depends what your motivations are. If you’re serious about cutting your carbon footprint, signing up with renewable energy suppliers that genuinely source and invest in green electricity and gas is a good thing to do.
How do I compare green energy companies?
Some suppliers will also give you a breakdown of where their green gas and electricity comes from right down to the location of the energy farm itself.
Who is the best green energy supplier?
Although some suppliers are greener than others, who’s best comes down to personal choice. To help you make a decision, think about:
- Fuel mix – the amount of green energy a supplier uses could influence your decision.
- Customer satisfaction – customer service varies between suppliers no matter where they source energy from so read reviews and ratings to compare.
- Account management – whether you prefer online or paper billing, check what options are available to you.
- Transparency – the greenest suppliers are more likely to be transparent about where they source energy from. If being eco friendly is your main motivation, then you’ll want to be clear about what is being sourced.
Compare green energy suppliers
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This information provided by Quotezone is not intended to be and should not be construed as advice. The information is publicly available and is correct as of 9th August 2017
* Ofgem research finds comparing and switching supplier or energy tariff can make a big difference to your gas and electricity bills – with annual savings of around £300 available please see https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/consumers/household-gas-and-electricity-guide/how-switch-energy-supplier-and-shop-better-deal
** Over 250,000 people switch energy company or tariff every month. Please see https://www.energy-uk.org.uk/our-work/retail/switching.html
To see the latest monthly switching stats, please visit Energy UK’s website: http://www.energy-uk.org.uk/publication/293-research-and-reports/switchingreports.html"