How Green is Green Energy?

By Energy Company Numbers on November 5, 2014 in Help and advice

Global warming is one of the greatest threats that humanity faces today. Not since the threat of nuclear war has there been such a clear and present danger to the status quo of human existence, but there’s a problem – we still need energy. Presently, the majority of the worlds’ energy is still derived from fossil fuels, a source of tremendous energy but one which is dwindling and harming the environment as it does so. As such, many of us are turning towards so called ‘green energy’ which promises to power our homes without leaving a smudge on the planet. The trouble is, however, that it can be difficult to quantify exactly what green energy is, let alone whether the green tariff we’ve signed up for is, in fact, green.

In an effort to clear up the confusion, we’ve got a few tips to help you identify whether your energy is green or not, so join us as we explore the murky world of green energy.

How green is green energy?

As its core, ‘green’ energy means energy which comes from a source which renews itself. Gas, oil, coal and other fossil fuels are of limited quantities, and we use more of them every day. Green energy is therefore energy which exists in the world around us, coming from sources such as the sun, the sea, the core of the earth, plants and so on. You’ll have likely seen wind farms out at sea and in the countryside, or solar panels on houses across the country, these are two of the more obvious representations of green energy we can see.

The trouble for energy providers though is that green energy typically costs a lot more money to harvest than fossil fuels, and are much more difficult to source. As such, there’s very few tariffs available which offer entirely sustainable energy to your home. Most ‘green’ tariffs use a mixture of fossil fuels and renewable energies and the mixture of these two vary from tariff to tariff. It’s always worth asking your energy provider from which sources they derive their energy, they should tell you this information and inquiring won’t cost you any money.

Energy suppliers paving the way with green energy include Scottish Power and SWALEC.

If you are looking for 100% green energy though, there are a few options within the UK. In 2012 Ofgem, the UK energy regulatory body which keeps an eye on the energy market on behalf of the public, published the specifications for the Green Energy Supply Certification Scheme. This scheme is intended to highlight companies and tariffs which offer 100% green energy to their customers. If the scheme awards a Certified Green Energy label to a tariff then the customer can be sure that the energy has come from a green source, that the company is delivering ‘additional benefits’ to the environment and that is has been checked by an independent third party.

At the time of writing, very few companies have reached these targets, and the only UK domestic tariff available which reaches it is the Good Energy ‘Good Energy’ tariff, which has a 100% renewable mix for itself.

Typically, a regular energy plan will feature around 11% energy from renewable sources, 38% from coal, 28% from gas, 20% from nuclear and 2% is classified as ‘other’. So, whilst companies are working hard to get green energy in to our homes, the mix is still firmly in the favour of fossil fuels and non-renewables. Of course, plenty of work is going on behind the scenes in order to build out the infrastructure required to ensure everybody in the country has green energy, but for the time being keep an eye out for that Certified Green Energy label to ensure your green energy really is green.

About the Author

Energy Company NumbersView all posts by Energy Company Numbers
Energy Company Numbers is a telephone number directory service dedicated to helping UK consumers keep in touch with their energy suppliers.


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