Green Electricity Suppliers

Posted on: 06 May 2008 by Gareth Hargreaves

All you need to know about switching to an energy supplier which generates power from renewable sources.


One simple way for householders to make a contribution towards improving the environment and reducing their CO2 emissions is to switch to an electricity supplier which generates some or all of its power from renewable sources such as wind or hydro.

The three main companies that provide this service at present are Ecotricity, Good Energy and Green Energy.

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Ecotricity

Ecotricity is the trading name of the Renewable Power Company. This company has a programme of investment into new sources of renewable electricity, so it is constantly adding to its clean generating capacity. Presently about 25% of its power is generated by renewables, but the company expects this to rise quickly as new generating schemes come online. The ‘New Energy Tariff’ is available in England, Scotland and Wales.

www.ecotricity.co.uk or 08000 326 100

Good Energy

In contrast to Ecotricity, Good Energy purchases its energy from renewable energy sources and does not have an active investment programme of its own. However, by providing a marketplace for small renewable energy producers it encourages the production of clean energy. 100% of energy supplied by Good Energy has been purchased from renewables suppliers checked by the company.

www.goodenergy.co.uk or 0845 456 1640

Green Energy

Green Energy is similar to Good Energy in that it is also a small independent company which purchases electricity from renewable sources. It has two available tariffs - Green Energy 100 is supplied 100% by renewables, while Green Energy +10 aims to beat by 10% the statutory minimum (currently 5%) set by the government for power companies to source their supply from renewables. The company plans to invest 50% of its profits in new renewable energy generation.

www.greenenergy.uk.com or 0845 456 9550

Other Green Tariffs

Several power companies offer ‘green’ tariffs but these need to be treated with some caution. Their welcome investment in renewable energy is frequently negligible in comparison to their power derived from fossil fuel sources, or they may compete for finite existing  renewable sources which are then ‘sold on’ via these tariffs, adding nothing to the supply of green energy. In some cases the companies (or their parent companies) offering the tariffs have a highly questionable environmental record, so it pays to do your research if you really want to make a difference by switching your electricity supplier.

Trading In ROCs & LECs

A further complication arises when trying to evaluate the greenness of electricity suppliers because it is possible for them to trade in ROCs (Renewable Obligation Certificates). By signing up to a green tariff it is theoretically possible that you are simply helping to fund the purchase of the certificates which the power companies are already under a legal obligation to purchase. It is only when a certificate is 'retired' that there is an incentive to produce more renewable electricity.

The same is also true of LECs (Levy Exemption Certificates), which can be sold to commercial organisations to help them meet their obligations under the Climate Change Levy. Unless a proportion of LECs are retired when the electricity is sold under a green tariff, there is a danger that the benefit of any one unit of production of green energy will be claimed twice under the current system, which does not provide an economic incentive to increase the production of renewable power

For further information see the comparison service at www.whichgreen.com.

Haynes Eco-House ManualThis extract is taken from Haynes Eco-House Manual, by Nigel Griffiths, RRP £19.99, available at all good bookshop or online from Amazon for £13.99.

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Grants For Renewable Energy

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