The ultimate guide to green energy tariffs
What is green energy?
Green energy is fast becoming one of the most popular energy sources globally. But what is green energy and why are more homes and businesses choosing to go green when it comes to gas and electricity?
Below, we take a look at what green energy initiatives are available, the benefits they can provide and how switching to renewable resources could be the next step for your business.
What is a green energy tariff?
A green tariff is a promise from your supplier that they’ll match all of the electricity that you use with accredited renewable energy, which is then fed back into the National Grid. While there’s no way to ensure the actual electrons in your home are green instead of non-green, the amount of green energy in the UK grid increases with every person who has a green energy tariff, pushing us all towards a 100% renewable future.
When we talk about green energy, also known as renewable energy, we’re referring to energy that’s generated from natural sources rather than traditional fossil fuels. This means energy that is generated by solar, wind, hydroelectric, biomass and geothermal sources.
What is carbon neutrality?
Not to be confused with renewable energy, carbon neutrality is the process by which companies purchase the necessary carbon credits to offset a business activity’s CO² emission. Sold as either permits or certificates, credits are the guarantees sold by third parties to make comparative contributions to carbon dioxide reduction schemes: tree planting, and solar panel installation.
What green energy solutions are available?
When it comes to implementing green energy solutions, there are a couple of different avenues that both business and domestic energy customers can take:
1. Purchase green energy from a supplier
The easiest way to ensure your business or home is powered by renewable sources is to switch your energy to a green tariff. You can see what percentage of your energy comes from renewable sources by viewing your provider's fuel mix, thus ensuring your energy is 100% green.
If purchasing green energy is the path you wish to take, choosing a specialist supplier is your best bet, such as SSE or Octopus. You can view all our suppliers here to find out who is providing green energy tariffs.
Not to be confused with renewable energy, carbon neutrality is the process by which companies purchase the necessary carbon credits to offset a business activity’s CO² emission. Sold as either permits or certificates, credits are the guarantees sold by third parties to make comparative contributions to carbon dioxide reduction schemes: tree planting, solar panel installation, etc.
Renewable energy minimises CO² production, where carbon offsetting mitigates it. This is prominent in the gas market where proven methods for sustainable supply are uneconomical.
2. Create your own green energy
Whether it’s for business purposes or domestic use, there’s nothing stopping you from generating your own green energy - in fact, it could end up being a profitable endeavour.
By installing specialist equipment, like solar panels or wind turbines, you can create 100% green energy to power your business or home. Not only does this give you peace of mind on where your energy is coming from, but if your energy generation system is efficient - such as south-facing solar panels - you could end up saving more money than with a provider.
What are the advantages of a green energy contract?
1. It’s great for the environment
One thing that all sources of renewable energy have in common is that they create less pollution than fossil fuels and almost zero global warming emissions. When compared to the amount of carbon dioxide emitted from coal, it’s clear to see how green energy benefits the environment:
Carbon dioxide equivalent per kilowatt-hour (CO2E/kWh)
1.4 - 3.6 CO2E/kWh
0.02 - 0.04 CO2E/kWh (about 99% less than coal)
0.07 - 0.2 CO2E/kWh (about 94% less than coal)
0.1 - 0.2 CO2E/kWh (about 94% less than coal)
0.1 - 0.5 CO2E/kWh (about 86% less than coal)
2. It’s a power source that won’t run out
Unlike oil, coal and gas which are all limited by their finite supplies, green energy sources are fully sustainable. Strong winds, sunny skies and lapping waves are resources we aren’t going to run out of any time soon, which means we have tapped into ever-replenishing sources of energy.
The UK government is coming round to the idea of green energy solutions and is steering away from traditional energy supplies, pledging to end coal power generation in the UK by 2025.
3. Lower maintenance than traditional fuel sources
Another drawback with fossil fuels is the amount of maintenance that is required for the upkeep of generators and similar technologies. Green energy generating equipment, like solar panels and wind turbines, have fewer moving parts or no moving parts at all, meaning there’s less chance of mechanical malfunctions.
What’s more, equipment doesn’t rely on flammable or combustible fuel sources, making them safer and less accident-prone. In fact, when properly looked after, solar panels can generate clean energy for over 30 years!
4. You’ll save money in the long run
Implementing green energy equipment, such as solar panels, can be costly to implement initially. In time though, you’ll see how the money you save on your utility bills outweighs your initial installation costs.
If transforming your business into a beacon of clean energy feels like a step too far, you can still save money simply by switching your energy to a green tariff. There are specialist suppliers that offer competitive deals and could help you save you money, especially if you’re a new customer.
5. It’s good for your business
Whether it’s implementing small changes to your day-to-day office life or fully transitioning to renewable energy, going green can be a step forward for your business in a number of ways.
As well as benefiting a business financially, the move to clean energy actively supports the growth of the UK’s renewable energy industry - great news for businesses, communities and the planet.
Switching to a green energy plan is fantastic for your public image too, as studies show that a third of customers are choosing to buy from sustainable brands. Customers like transparency from the companies they buy from and feel reassured knowing that companies are doing their part for the environment.
Who provides green energy?
When choosing an energy provider, you can see exactly what percentage of their energy supply comes from renewable resources by checking their fuel mix. This information is available in our energy suppliers hub as well on an individual provider’s website and details a breakdown of exactly where their energy comes from.
The Big Six dominate the energy industry, yet they typically don’t play a part in green initiatives. Things seem to be changing for one of the top players, however, as Scottish Power announced in late 2018 that it is the first energy giant that will be 100% green.
Scottish Power owns the UK’s largest onshore windfarm and has plans to expand offshore in East Anglia and Germany. Currently, Scottish Power’s 2,000MW of wind power produced can power 1.7 million homes with green energy. The problem with this is that Scottish Power has close to 5 million customers, meaning that they must rely on fossil fuels for the majority of their customers. Over the next four years, Scottish Power is planning to invest £5.2bn into its renewable energy capacity to help reach their target of 100% green energy.
If you want to know your business is fully supplied by green energy, there are a number of independent energy companies available that focus purely on renewable resources. Providers such as Octopus Energy, OVO Energy and Green Energy UK dedicate themselves to providing 100% renewable energy while also ensuring their customers receive a competitive tariff.
Green initiatives for your business
If a green energy plan is something you’d like to pursue and are thinking of switching providers, our free energy comparison tool will help you find the best deal. Simply enter your postcode and see how much you can save!