You may have seen a lot of media coverage about renewable energy in the last year, but what does it actually mean? Renewable energy refers to power being generated from wind, solar, hydro or biomass as opposed to fossil fuels. Fossil fuels such as coal, gas, or oil, all release greenhouse gas emissions that are responsible for climate change. So, stopping using them and switching to more sustainable method of energy makes sense, right? And it has never been easier to switch than now.
In October 2021 Arc has made the smart decision to switch our electricity provider to renewable energy supplier, which not only means we are not supporting the fossil fuel industry every time we use power, but it also reduces dependence on imported fuels, create economic development and jobs in manufacturing, installation, and more.
But not all energy providers claiming to run on 100% renewable energy are the same. In this article we will talk you through of what to look for when selecting a ‘green’ provider, so you can make an educated decision when it comes to making the switch.
Renewable energy is generated and then added to the national grid, where it is mixed with energy from other sources. Finally, this mix is piped out to houses and businesses all over the UK.
When you sign up with a renewable energy supplier, they do not pump green energy through a separate ‘green grid’ straight to your home. Instead, your money goes towards sending more green energy into grid, ensuring that the UK’s energy mix gets greener overall. By choosing a green provider, you are essentially choosing to invest in renewable generation.
When a supplier claims they run on 100% renewable energy, sometimes they only generate a small percentage of that energy through renewable means, and the rest of that 100% is purchased via the Renewable Energy Guarantees of Origin (REGO) certificate. The purpose of the certificate is to prove to the final customer that a given share of energy was produced from renewable sources. You might wonder what the problem is with this – under the REGO scheme, a provider does not need to have generated renewable energy itself to hold a REGO certificate?
A supplier can buy REGO certificates separately from the energy itself, with enough to power a typical household’s energy for an entire year costing just 50p. This makes it easy for suppliers to buy away consumers’ environmental guilt and claim to offer 100% green electricity. In reality, many providers simply engage in REGO certificate trading, buying enough certificates to match the energy you use but actually getting the power from the cheapest possible source – be it coal, natural gas, nuclear energy, or wherever. This is called greenwashing, and is increasingly common.
There are two clear ways how suppliers get green energy; either by producing their own renewable energy (e.g., running their own windmills or solar panel farms) or by green energy trading, which is done by purchasing REGO certificates as well as the energy they represent.
It is clear, then, that not all “100% green tariffs” are created equal, and that depending on the provider you are with your product could range from very eco-friendly to not at all. We hope this article has provided you with some insight into what to look out for when selecting a renewable supplier. Let us know if the reality behind the REGO certificates surprised you, or you already knew in the comments below!
More information: Good Energy
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