26 years ago, Ecotricity launched as the world’s first green energy company. Back then, green energy was a radically new concept and it was easy to see which tariffs were genuinely green versus fossil fuel brown.
Today that difference is nowhere near as clear. When we talk about energy suppliers, we talk in shades of sustainability – deep, mid and light green.
A lot of this is down to greenwashing – or claiming something is greener than it really is. Greenwashing is a real problem in the energy market because everyone wants to appear green, but look closer and things get very murky, very quickly.
That’s why we always recommend that you choose a deep green supplier to power your home or business.
Thanks to a loophole in the rules governing UK energy, energy suppliers can claim their ‘green’ status just by buying certificates called REGOs (Renewable Energy Guarantee of Origins).
These certificates are attached to green energy to start with – like a birth certificate – but can be traded and then attached to nuclear or fossil fuels.
As a consumer, you think you’re getting green energy but you’re actually being sold different energy with a certificate.
We think this is wrong if that is all a supplier does. If your energy supplier only trades certificates and nothing more, you’re being greenwashed.
Other energy suppliers buy green energy (as well as REGO certificates) from the companies that generate it and supply it to their customers.
In theory, this kind of green energy trading can incentivise the production and building of more green energy and there’s certainly a role for it in Britain’s push towards 100% renewables.
However, as with trading certificates, the energy is typically from a source that’s already been built. It exists and is part of the national supply. When one company buys it, another one loses it – it’s a transfer of existing green energy and isn’t actively increasing the amount of green energy in the nationwide supply.
With the climate crisis raging, we think that if you pay for green energy, your money should go towards building more green energy.
We’ve always been a deep green energy company. In fact, consumer champion Which? chose Ecotricity as one of only three energy companies deserving of their Eco Provider award in November 2021.
As a deep green energy supplier, we use our profits to build new sources of green energy. This is the only activity that makes a genuine difference in the fight against the climate crisis.
We’ve done this from day one - we call it turning bills into mills. This was directly recognised by Which? who said that Ecotricity “puts customers’ money towards building new renewable generation.”
Owing to the way the energy market works in Britain, this deep green building of new sources of renewable energy is often done in combination with mid and light green activity.
The bottom line
Where your energy comes from matters. Choosing a deep green supplier is the most effective thing we can do as individuals to fight the climate crisis.
The key question to ask an energy supplier is: “Are you genuinely increasing the amount of green energy in the national grid or are you just distributing what already exists?”
At Ecotricity, we invest our customers’ bills into building new forms of green energy and fighting the climate crisis.
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