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Which suppliers offer green energy in the UK?

By Marc Shoffman
Wednesday, January 24th 2018

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.

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. Plenty of green suppliers offer 100% renewable electricity, but total green gas is trickier as it's not as widely available.

Bulb

Bulb is a regular in the top deals and sources 100% renewable energy such as hydro-power and takes 10% of green gas from renewable generators in the UK.

Tonik

Tonik uses solar power and biogas to provide its renewable energy. Its fuel mix data shows 57% of its electricity comes from solar power and 43% from anaerobic digestion. A tenth of its gas is taken from green sources such as from breaking down animal or food waste. Tonik will also pay 3% interest on credit balances.

Green Energy UK

Green Energy sources most of its electricity from solar power at 35.96%, with 30% coming from combined heat and power systems that generate both gas and electricity simultaneously. Another fifth comes from wind, with the rest from bio-generation, water and landfill gas. It also provides 100% green gas used by breaking down animal manure using anaerobic digestion.

Ecotricity

Ecotricity generates much of its own renewable energy from its own fleet of wind turbines rather than purchasing from someone else. The majority of its electricity supply comes from wind, with 78.34% from offshore wind farms and 21.59% from onshore. The rest comes from hydro power. It currently uses 12% green gas but is looking to source its own products to boost that figure to 100%.

Good Energy

Good Energy takes half its electrify power from wind, and a quarter from solar panels. Another 18% comes from hydro and the rest from biogeneration. It says 6% of its gas is green.

Outfox The Market

Outfox The Market regularly hovers around the best buy tables. It sources its electricity from 100% renewable sources such as biothermal and solar that are generated in the UK.

Solarplicity

Solarplicity offers 100% renewable electricity. It sources half from biofuels, a fifth each from hydropower and wind, and the rest from solar.

Green Star Energy

Green Star provides 100% renewable electricity with more than half its power coming from from hydroelectric generators and the bulk of the rest from wind turbines. It says it is in the process of finding a reliable way to source green gas.

So Energy

So Energy has partnerships with wind farm, solar and tidal power generators across the UK. It takes 40.62% of its electricity from solar and 28.46% from wind. The rest comes from biomass, and also hydro and tidal power sources. It also invites customers to suggest renewable sources to use.

Pure Planet

Pure Planet offers a 100% renewable electricity tariff, but doesn’t break down its sources, simply listing wind, the sun and hydro. It also says its uses 100% carbon offset gas. (This means the supplier still uses fossil fuels for its gas supply but offsets the amount it is using by funding renewable schemes elsewhere.)

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Energy suppliers that offer green tariffs

Npower

Npower offers a fixed rate Go Green energy tariff until December 2019. It matches all the electricity and 15% of the gas you use by purchasing the same amount of energy back from renewable sources. It also works with Trees for Cities to plant a tree in the UK for each fuel you use. So if you choose both gas and electricity on the tariff you will have two trees planted on your behalf.

Co-op Energy

Co-op Energy offers a 100% renewable electricity Green Pioneer tariff alongside its standard range. It is trying to reduce its carbon footprint across its tariffs and stopped contracting energy generated from coal-fired power stations in February 2016, but it will take until 2019 for this to be finished.

Currently, two thirds of its electricity comes from renewables, 6.66% comes from coal and 20.43% from gas. Another 5.58% comes from nuclear power.

Octopus Energy

Another standard supplier, Octopus Energy offers a green energy tariff that will only use 100% renewable power. It has contracts with solar farms and anaerobic digestion sites helping it provide 96% of its electricity from renewable sources. It still uses coal and natural gas, but they make up around 1% each of its fuel mix respectively and it offsets this by funding renewable energy schemes elsewhere.

Ovo Energy

Ovo offers a Green Energy add-on for an extra £5 a month. Its standard tariff uses at least 33% renewable electricity sources but this can be boosted to 100% through the add-on. The supplier will also plan five trees on your behalf. Currently 64.7% of its electricity is renewable, with the rest from nuclear sources.

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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 Government wants at least 30% of our electricity to come from renewable sources by 2020. There is some doubt as to whether that can be reached, but suppliers do get incentives known as the Renewables Obligation for sourcing a proportion of their electricity from eligible alternative sources.

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.

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