How Green Is Your Electricity?

Well, it won’t be too long before everyone’s thinking about turning the heating on (some of you may already have done so) but I wonder how many of you ever wonder about where it comes from. In this first article, I’m concentrating on electricity provision.

2020 has been a unique year (not just for the obvious reason) but also because, for the first time, renewable energy made up almost half of the UK’s electricity generation in the first three months of the year (47% to be exact!). This was due to an increase in wind power as well as more people generating electricity from solar panels. It’s pretty amazing, as it shows we’re going in the right direction and when you think that this was during the coldest part of the year, it’s warming to the heart (forgive the pun!) and gives some positive hope for the level of change we can make towards 100% generation in the future.

However, most people are still on mainstream provider tariffs, getting their energy from what are known as the “Big Six”. These are:

  • British Gas
  • EDF
  • e.on
  • Npower
  • SSE (now OVO)
  • Scottish Power.

The important thing to know about energy companies (but especially the “Big Six”) is their fuel mix. It’s not something that they publicise, but you can see exactly what their fuel mix is by visiting this very handy website (link below), which tells you exactly what percentage of your company’s fuel comes from renewables, coal, nuclear etc. It also gives you forecasts and real time data:

N.B. The date of this information is given on the right hand side of the table. Most give the fuel mix from last year, so it’s pretty up to date.

To go back to the “Bix Six”. They may tell you they’re green, but the table below shows the reality!

The fact that coal is being used at all is a bit shocking given that we’re no longer mining coal in this country, meaning that it’s being shipped in from overseas. The bottom line though is that it’s not good enough when there are so many companies who manage to provide 100% clean energy. British Gas also invests in fracking, so I don’t think the “Big Six” are doing very well!

It’s also important to understand that coal has to be shipped in from Russia, gas from Norway and uranium from Kazakhstan (all to generate electricity) and it’s a bit sobering to realise that before they even get to us, these fuels have on average, travelled 2,500 miles.

I switched to Good Energy (a 100% green electricity provider) back in 2007. At the time, it was the only 100% renewable electricity provider in the country, but nowadays you’re literally spoiled for choice. If we compare the dismal renewable generation of the above companies with the following, it rather puts it into perspective. I must also say that I’ve never found my renewable energy provider to be expensive (although you have a crucial part to play in how much you pay, because it’s obviously directly dependent upon how much you try to keep your energy consumption down!). All the following companies’ fuel mix is 100% renewable:

  • Bristol Energy
  • Bulb
  • Co-Op Energy
  • Economy 7 Energy
  • Ecotricity
  • Foxglove Energy
  • Good Energy
  • Green Energy UK
  • Green Star Energy
  • Gulf Gas and Power UK
  • iSupply Energy Octopus
  • Outfox the Market
  • People’s Energy
  • Pure Planet
  • So Energy
  • Symbi
  • Tonik Energy
  • Yorkshire Energy

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