Which suppliers offer green energy in the UK?
By Marc Shoffman | Friday, April 16th 2021
Everyone likes to do their bit to save the planet and combat climate change. You may already be recycling, using less paper or delaying the date the heating goes on each year. But now you can show your green credentials through your choice of energy supplier.
The number of suppliers offering green energy is growing rapidly, with some of the biggest power companies now getting in on the act. However, the best options for anyone looking for a truly environmentally-friendly energy deal are still to be found with the smaller, specialist providers.
Green energy suppliers
Most green energy suppliers list how much renewable electricity they source and where from, but not all disclose the levels of green gas they use. Most green suppliers offer 100% renewable electricity, but total green gas is trickier as it's not yet widely available.
Green Energy UK
Green Energy provides 100% of its electricity from renewables, using a mixture of solar power, biomass, hydro power and wind power. It also provides 100% green gas created by breaking down animal manure using anaerobic digestion, making it a truly green provider.
Bulb is a regular in the top deals and sources 100% renewable electricity such as hydro-power and its gas is 100% carbon-neutral.
ESB offers 100% renewable electricity with all its fixed price tariffs. It sources its energy from a mixture of wind farms, solar panels and biomass. The provider does not state if its gas supply is renewable or carbon-neutral.
Ecotricity generates 20% of its own renewable energy from its own wind and sun ‘parks’ and the rest is sourced from other green generators. The majority of its electricity supply comes from wind turbines. It currently sources 1% of its green gas from other suppliers but is also building its own green gas mills, fuelled by grass cuttings. The rest of its gas supply is carbon-neutral as a result of investments in carbon reduction schemes around the world.
Good Energy creates 53.9% of its electricity from wind, 13.4% from solar panels, 4.3% from hydroelectric sources and 28.4% from biogeneration. Another 18% comes from hydro and the rest from biogeneration. Biogas forms 10% of its gas supply, the rest is carbon-offset through investment in international carbon-reduction schemes.
Outfox The Market
Outfox The Market regularly hovers around the best buy tables. It sources 100% of its electricity from offshore wind farms in the UK. Unfortunately it does not offer green gas.
People’s Energy Company
The People’s Energy company offers 100% green electricity, with its sources split equally between wind, solar and hydro. It also offers 100% green gas in the form of biomethane, but only to its business customers at the moment.
Green Star Energy
Green Star is part of Shell Energy and provides 100% renewable electricity with much of its power coming from wind turbines. It will also plant two trees in the UK for every new customer that joins, and runs carbon reduction projects that help reforestation in the Amazon rainforest.
So Energy offers 100% green electricity with 62% from wind, 17% from solar power, 14% from hydro power, 5% from biomass and 2% from tidal energy. It also invites customers to suggest renewable sources to use and offers customers the chance to vote for their favoured source of renewable electricity.
Pure Planet offers a 100% renewable electricity tariff, with 89% coming from turbine-generated wind power and 11% from solar power. It also offers 100% carbon-offset gas by funding renewable schemes elsewhere.
Energy suppliers that offer green tariffs
E.ON is one of a growing number of big energy providers that now offers 100% renewable electricity as standard, sourced from a mix of E.ON’s own biomass plants and from independent UK wind generators. E.ON’s gas supply is not renewable or carbon-offset.
Another standard supplier, Octopus Energy offers 100% renewable electricity. It does not offer carbon-neutral gas as standard but customers can choose to carbon-offset their gas supply if they wish.
Ovo offers 100% renewable electricity as standard. The supplier also works in association with the Woodland Trust and will plant a tree in your name every year. Ovo Energy is aiming to be fully carbon-neutral by 2030 and currently offers 100% carbon-neutral gas.
British Gas promotes the fact that all its electricity tariffs are now 100% carbon neutral. Thus far only 76% of its fuel mix is renewable however, with the remaining 24% coming from nuclear power.
This energy giant now guarantees all its fixed price tariffs come with 100% renewable electricity, sourced exclusively from UK wind farms.
SSE doesn’t offer a specific green tariff as standard, but for an extra £3 per month you can “Go Green” by changing to 100% renewable electricity with any one of SSE’s bundle deals. The provider will buy in wind and hydro-produced electricity to cover your usage. It will also plant five trees on your behalf.
Where can I buy green energy?
You can purchase green energy in the same way you would any deal, either direct on their website or by finding them on an energy comparison website. There are some providers who advertise themselves as 100% green. This means they will still sell you energy through the National Grid but will then match the amount you buy from them through purchasing energy from renewable sources.
They will show up on energy comparison websites, but because they tend to be smaller or may not have referral arrangements you will usually need to select an option to view all deals in order to see them.
There are other suppliers that aren’t totally green, but will offer tariffs based on renewable power. In these cases, they would also just buy an equivalent amount of renewable energy to cover customers on that deal.
How is green energy provided?
There are lots of green tariffs, but the actual energy coming into your home may not necessarily be that colour. This is because all power comes through the same National Grid, so rather than the actual electricity or gas being green, providers will typically purchase the equivalent amount of gas or electricity you are using from renewable sources on your behalf.
What is green energy?
Traditionally, much of the UK’s power is generated from burning fossil fuels such as coal, oil or gas. This is seen as a major contributor to climate change, but green energy provides an alternative, and encourages suppliers to reduce their carbon footprint.
The UK’s electricity supply is now 42% renewable – this is well over the 30% target that was set by the government to reach in 2020. The government is now aiming for all homes to be powered by offshore wind energy by 2030.
Green energy is gas or electricity obtained from renewable natural sources such as the sun or wind. There are plenty of ways to generate renewable energy. The best known are solar panels, which store energy from sunlight, or wind turbines that generate power from the wind. Renewable electricity can also be sourced from waves, tides and volcanoes.
Getting energy from gas or biogas, rather than burning fossil fuels, is less common at the moment since not as much is produced in the UK, though some suppliers do offer it. It is created by decomposing organic waste, such as leftover food, animal manure or sewage, and breaking it down in a process called anaerobic digestion. The gases that this process creates are then used as a source of power. This is also described as biogeneration.
Suppliers can also reduce their carbon footprint by offsetting any gas they do source from fossil fuels through certified emission reductions (CER.) A CER is essentially an industry acknowledgement that a supplier is fulfilling its obligations to reduce carbon emissions. This lets them still use gas from fossil fuels, rather than sourcing natural gas, but they instead have to fund approved renewable energy projects, such as solar farms in the developing world.
You can usually find out how much renewable energy your provider uses by checking its fuel mix. Industry regulator Ofgem requires suppliers to publish this data annually. It should be made available on their website and show what fuels it purchases for its power supply. This only technically applies to the electricity sources, but some also will tell you how they get their gas.
Some critics question whether a provider can be truly green using this approach so it is worth checking how your supplier sources its renewable energy if you are concerned.