Which Electricity is Greenest?

Wind turbines in a field (reusable image from Wikipedia)

In October’s magazine, Which? reviewed 24 supposedly green energy suppliers. 9 supply 100% renewable energy to domestic customers;

Bulb, Co-operative Energy, Ecotricity, Eagle, Foxglove Energy, Good Energy, Green Energy, Green Star Energy, Octopus Energy, Pure Planet, So Energy, Tonik Energy and Yorkshire Energy.

Of these, Ecotricity, Eagle (whose overall mix is only 34% renewable, as they mainly supply non-domestic customers) and Good Energy generate their own renewable energy.

Figures are mainly based on the year 2017-18, from the companies’ own websites.


4 comments on “Which Electricity is Greenest?
  1. Harry Macdonald says:

    While I am 100% behind the need to use green electricity suppliers, we need to take all their claims with a fairly large dose of reality.
    1) none of them supply green electricity when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining,
    2) what they do is buy more green electricity than they need at some times to balance the times when they supply you with fossil fuel generated energy,
    3) What they don’t tell you is that if they didn’t buy it, then someone else would be using it. That person now needs to use fossil fuel generated electricity.
    This is a bit like saying you can reduce your petrol use by taking a taxi. Yes your use goes down but someone else’s goes up so there is no saving.

    • Andrew says:

      Hi Harry,

      All fair points. Just want to add a bit:

      1) No wind/sun = no green power. Of course you’re right. But our ability to store electricity via batteries or convert excess into eg hydrogen fuel is improving all the time. Renewable electricity may not yet be perfect or as convenient as burning fossil fuels, but that shouldn’t stop us using it wherever possible, and we can invest in those improvements by signing up to a green energy provider.
      2) I think it’s important to distinguish between ‘green’ tariffs like those you’ve described, and the few electricity providers who actually increase the total amount of renewable power pumped into the grid. Choosing a genuine green supplier rather than one that just trades green certificates makes a big difference. More on that here: https://positivelygreen.blog/2019/05/08/green-electricity-part-2/
      3) Within your analogy, which is a good one, choosing the right green electricity supplier then becomes more like taking not a taxi, but an e-bike – the result really is a decrease in petrol use!
      All best.

    • Paul Strickland says:

      Good Energy also invest in their own renewable generation plants, and buy surplus from customers, so there is more available for everyone.

  2. Steve Levett says:

    Have you heard of SF6? I hadn’t until I came across an article on the BBC website which explores a possible unintended consequence of people like me trying to switch away from gas to electricity (be in renewable or otherwise.). Here’s the worrying statistic about SF6, which is an insulation gas used to prevent fires in electricity generation: ‘It is 23,500 times more warming than carbon dioxide (CO2).’ Here’s a link to the article:

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-49567197

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