What is Green Energy? It is electricity that has been generated by renewable sources including wind, the sun and biofuels – as opposed to using fossil fuels like coal or oil which I like to call ‘Brown’ Energy.
There maybe some confusion over buying ‘Green Energy’ and what that actually means. Many businesses and households are either not switching their contracts or they have not selected ‘Green’ or know that ‘Green’ can be selected.
Firstly to clarify if you purchase a green contract this does not mean that there is an independent ‘Green Cable’ coming into your business or your house. It actually means that the supplier you have purchased your energy through has an obligation to purchase or generate as part of their balancing process the equivalent amount of green energy from the grid.
Now this is where it starts to get complex. Firstly there are many suppliers that are 100% Green or Partly Green. The bottom line is though you are purchasing ‘Green’ Renewable Energy, there is no guarantee that you are actually using green energy unless as I have said before you have your own unique supply direct and independent from your surrounding neighbours.
Another area of consideration is that the actual billing is being provided by an App, this is also being recognised in the industry as providing an environmentally friendly service. I have probably not received an electricity bill for my house since 2008 where I have always opted for paperless billing.
In the UK, more of our electricity comes from low carbon and renewable sources all the time. On most occasions the UK generates more power from clean energy than from fossil fuels. In 2018, carbon-free sources of electricity, including nuclear and renewables, accounted for almost 50% of total electricity production in the UK.
Coal-fired power plants are in decline, only around 4% of our electricity comes from coal today – whereas it was around 30% of all electricity generated only ten years ago. Nuclear is shown here as 16% this is not classed as Green because though the generation does not produce carbon Emissions, the spent fuel and waste is a significant problem. I actually worked in the Nuclear Industry from 18 to 26 Years of age through the times of ‘Chernobyl’. I worked in both Coal and Nuclear power plants and I can confirm the significant differences.
We are seeing significant trends in renewable energy becoming more and more the norm regarding this change. During the current Pandemic we have seen a reduction in the demand of energy whiuch has had a significant impact to the environment.
The BBC reported this recently:
Britain is about to pass a significant landmark – at midnight on Wednesday it will have gone two full months without burning coal to generate power.
A decade ago about 40% of the country’s electricity came from coal; coronavirus is part of the story, but far from all. When Britain went into lockdown, electricity demand plummeted; the National Grid responded by taking power plants off the network.
The four-remaining coal-fired plants were among the first to be shut down. The last coal generator came off the system at midnight on 9 April. No coal has been burnt for electricity since. The current coal-free period smashes the previous record of 18 days, 6 hours and 10 minutes which was set in June last year.
This all said it is becoming easier and easier for consumers to select ‘Green’ contracts and the risk of having to pay a premium is getting lower. ‘Green’ Energy is now becoming just as competitive as ‘Brown’ Energy and the only time I believe this is not the case is when the Supplier is not the generator and they have to purchase the Green Energy themselves.
So, when you are selecting your energy and if you want to select a Green Tariff it still is not clear. Now I will not put any names to this document as it is not my place but there are different criteria’s you need to achieve in my eyes to become a Green Supplier and deliver a Green Tariff:
- Only have 100% renewable electricity tariffs
- Own renewable generation
- Buys renewable electricity direct from generators
Not all suppliers fulfil these criteria, so it is worthwhile finding a supplier actually does fulfil from this list.
Overall buying Green Energy and like the whole of the market place is actually very complex and my advice here is that if you have a significate energy spend and you want to go green, seek expert advice and really test the industry to understand exactly whether the supplier meets your actual environment policies.
If you are a householder and you want to buy Green make sure that you are buying this at a competitive rate as your actual goal of buying green does not actually mean you are using green energy, it mean you are ‘Possibly’ funding the process.
The U.K. will not have 100% green for many years as we still have Nuclear power which is not classed as Green. So having green cables coming into our houses maybe a long distant dream for the future.