At first glance, that looks to be a simple yes or no question but dive a little deeper and the answer gets more complex.
Where is becomes less clear is that almost all the green energy producers feed their energy into the national network for distribution. In the UK, that is the National Grid. The energy and gas, which as a product is the same thing, regardless of source, is mixed with other, less green, sources before it arrives at the consumer.
This means that unless a company using the energy has deep enough pockets to buy its own generating equipment, it becomes impossible to prove that the actual electricity used to produce todays batch of products definitely came from the wind farm just off the Sussex coast.
This creates an apparent weakness that offers green energy suppliers an opportunity to take advantage of. To get around the issue, the sellers have to purchase ‘Renewable Energy Guarantee of Origin’ (REGO) certificates, costing around £1.55 per year for the average household, so that they can badge the energy they sell as being from a renewable source. However, that too has its weakness that looks to being exploited by certain companies.
Some companies, for example Green Energy, Ecotricity and Good Energy generate themselves or pay the generators directly for what their customers use, and they directly support the renewables network growth. Other green energy companies have a much weaker claim. Their business model is built around brokerage of energy from the national grid open market, rather than buying directly from the generators. Alongside this they purchase the ‘Renewable Energy Guarantee of Origin’ (REGO) certificates and sell it on as being renewable energy without ever having generated or purchased directly from the renewable source. This works due to the mixing of energy sources as mentioned above, however this is somewhat misleading to consumers and amounts to ‘greenwashing’.
But all that may be missing the point. As a relatively new and rapidly expanding industry, the cost of renewable energy generation has been falling steadily to the point now where it is extremely competitive with all the less green and non-renewable sources. Supporting the companies that sell the green stuff will only encourage the generating companies to invest in new renewable energy instead of the old technology.
As a business, Topline Naturals has decided to go with Green Energy as they only supply 100% green energy. Using a renewable energy source reduces our carbon footprint and we encourage you to consider taking a similar step.
Reference Which? Report as reported in the Independent news service.