In these times of clever marketing, the truth about energy supply and where it’s coming from can be hard to figure out. It isn’t that the Big 6 offer no renewable energy sources at all (on average, this figure is around 6.6% of ordinary supply), but there are 5 alternative energy suppliers that are actually reliant on green energy, and their tariffs are reasonable, if not always cheaper than the energy behemoths.
Good Energy describes the National Grid as being like a ‘dirty pond’ of electricity, and explain that for every customer who gets their energy from Good Energy, the company matches their energy use by pumping energy generated from renewables, by small suppliers such as hill farms and even a Scottish ice cream company, into the dirty pond. Their claim is that 100% of the energy they supply is renewable, and this is sourced from wind, water, solar and biogen production.
Green Energy is another of those gas and electricity suppliers that sources its energy from small providers. However, as well as harnessing wind, solar, and water power, this company also gets its energy supplies from anaerobic digestion (a pig farm), biomass, and the majority comes from CHP, which is combined heat and power. Standard power plants lose much of their energy in waste heat. CHP plants capture the heat, and use it. This makes CHP plants around 95% efficient, and exempt from the Climate Change Levy.
LOC02 is an electricity supplier that designed its product to slot into a gap in the market. They understood that customers had only two choices for energy supply: brown, fossil-fuel-related energy with terrible customer service, or green energy from an independent supplier in return for a small fortune. LOC02 prides itself on offering renewable electricity from solar, wind, anaerobic digestion, biomass, and hydropower at a sensible price, with great customer service. They don’t offer gas as of yet, but they do own outright 7 hydropower plants across Scotland and England, with 4 in the pipeline to be built.
Ovo offers customers a two-tariff choice. There is a ‘new energy plan’ which locates 15% of its electricity from renewable sources; and the ‘green energy plan’ which promises (similar to Good Energy) that for every unit of electricity bought, Ovo will buy one of renewable electricity. They offer fixed pricing, a simple, understandable service, and fair pricing which is accessible by new and old customers alike. Refreshing, isn’t it?
Ecotricity is the UK’s number one renewable energy supplier. It spends over £280 per customer per year on creating new sources of renewable energy, and the company is based on a ‘not-for-dividend’ model, so you can be sure that any profits made are pumped straight back into developing the company and its energy sources. They also have planning permission for their first ‘green gas mill’ and in the meantime they promise their customers that any gas supplied by them will be from a ‘frack-free’ location. They even claim that their tariffs are a ‘few pounds’ cheaper than the Big 6, which is quite a claim for a green energy supplier.
So don’t let the Big 6 tell you that the only way is their way. If you have a green conscience, then you also have a choice. You don’t have to help destroy the world.
Paul Winters writes about all things green. He has a passion for green issues and contributes to a number of campaigns in this important arena.