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Powering choice

27 August, 2021

One of the biggest sustainability decisions we can make as individuals is where we get the power we use at home, and nine million people in the UK have made the choice to switch to renewable electricity.

In principle, this is simple: the energy you consume is produced by the wind, sun and water, rather than the mix of energy sources including fossil energy. But in practice, it’s more complicated than that and some green tariffs are more green than others.

Energy companies are currently able to market tariffs as ‘green’ even if some of the energy they supply to customers comes from fossil fuels, as long as this is offset by purchasing enough certificates called Renewable Energy Guarantees of Origin to cover their customer base. Meanwhile, renewable electricity can be bought directly from the suppliers. Most suppliers use a mix of these methods, but you typically don’t get an understanding of this when you buy energy.

It’s clear that the current situation is too ambiguous. It’s important that people know what they are getting when they make positive sustainability choices like switching to green energy – to do otherwise will undermine the integrity of sustainable options. We’re heartened to see the UK Government initiating a review to tighten the rules so that consumers have a better idea of where their energy actually comes from and look forward to seeing the results of this review.

Don’t give up on your green tariff just yet. Just look forward to being able to switching on your lights knowing with confidence that it’s being powered by the sun.

By Patrick Bapty

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