Green tariffs rated

Latest report finds green energy market is flooded with ‘flimsy claims’ on renewable energy

Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod

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Published: 10 March 2021

This Article was Written by: Katie Hill - My Green Pod

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Most ‘green’ energy suppliers are not contributing to the UK’s legally binding commitment to net-zero emissions by 2050, Ethical Consumer (EC) has warned.

Releasing its biennial green energy guide, the watchdog has warned eco-conscious consumers not to rely on providers who rely on solely REGO (Ofgem’s Renewable Energy Guarantees Origin) certificates to green their tariffs, without having to produce, or even buy, any renewable electricity. 
 
Researchers investigated, scored and ranked the ethical and environmental record of 20 energy suppliers.

Criteria included looking at the fuels that generate a supplier’s electricity, company ownership, green tariffs, renewable generation, biogas and ‘vegan’ energy, energy prices and UK renewables targets.

‘Green tariffs’ to avoid

According to Ethical Consumer, Shell Energy has ‘the worst green credentials’. It claims to have a 100% renewable tariff, while continuing to funnel 90% of its capital into fossil fuels. 

In the ratings scoretable, companies lost half a mark under Climate Change if their fuel mix was over 5% from coal, or less than the national average from renewables (37%).

Shell, EDF, Npower, PFP, Utilita and Utility Warehouse all have a fuel mix with less than the UK average from renewables. 

Shell and RWE (15% owner of E.ON) are both being sued by those on the frontline of climate breakdown. 

Confusion for consumers

Consumers have less power in the electricity market than in many others – most decisions about electricity are being made at the national level.

If people want to really help tackle climate change, Ethical Consumer advises looking at decarbonising their heating through insulation and looking into heat pumps or maybe solar heating.

As one recent report put it: ‘decarbonisation of heating for the UK’s existing housing stock is possible and can be achieved with average net investment of less than £10,000 per home.’

‘The UK is missing nearly all our renewable energy targets, and it really doesn’t look like a serious attempt is being made to rectify that. Given what we have committed to do, the measures in place to do it are profoundly inadequate. 

‘Consumers want to help, but are confused. Buying from a green electricity supplier has only a small effect in the UK as the system is so regulated. But if you do, avoid the ones which are only buying REGOs – they don’t really do anything.  

‘Much more major things that you can do to help include insulating your house and looking into getting a heat pump to replace your gas boiler. You can also look into getting solar panels or solar heating.’

JOSIE WEXLER
Researcher at Ethical Consumer

Energy use at home

Consumers have an important role to play in reducing their electricity consumption. Further Ethical Consumer research has revealed the pandemic has increased awareness of excessive household energy consumption.

Ethical Consumer’s Pandemic Market Report found that working from home during lockdown appears to have focused consumers on energy use. 

44% of respondents claimed to have reduced energy use during the pandemic and 52% said they will be looking to reduce their usage post-lockdown.

This comes on top of a huge 338% increase in spend on green electricity tariffs in 2019, up to £4.8bn.

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