For generations, the UK energy sector has been dependent on fossil fuels. But not any more! In 2020, there are more green energy suppliers to choose from than ever; and thats good news for you and the planet. Renewable power is the future of the UK energy industry, and we’re the world’s number one market leader for wind power. Today all of the largest energy suppliers in the company (The “Big 6”) offer at least one green energy tariff. What’s more, there are a growing number of energy suppliers that exclusively offer green energy to UK consumers.
Last update: September 2021
But what do we mean when we talk about green energy? Which suppliers offer green energy? Can a green energy deal also be a budget-friendly energy deal? And how can consumers know what to look for when they compare green energy suppliers?
In this post, we’ll look at everything you need to know to compare green energy suppliers. So you can make an informed choice on behalf of your household that not only reduce your home’s carbon footprint, but saves you money as well.
What is green energy?
Green energy is energy that is generated from renewable sources. For many years, the energy industry has been heavily reliant on burning coal, oil and natural gas. While natural gas is still a pretty big part of our national energy fuel mix, 28.47 terawatt hours (tWh) of the energy produced in the UK in Q2 of 2020 came from renewable sources.
When energy suppliers buy wholesale electricity exclusively from power plants that generate it in renewable ways, this is what we mean when we talk about green energy. If a supplier’s energy fuel mix (the different ways in which their electricity is generated) is 100% renewable, they are called a green energy supplier. While many energy companies (including the “Big 6″— British Gas, Scottish Power, EDF, E.On, N Power, SSE) offer 100% renewable tariffs, they are not referred to as green suppliers as some of their overall energy mix comes from fossil fuels.
Looking to switch to a green energy supplier? Let us help you out with that! At Switch Plan, we can provide you with all the green energy suppliers on the market and help you make the best decision for your needs. All you have to do is give us a call at the number on the top of the screen. Count on us to help you Switch!
List of green energy suppliers
There are a growing number of energy suppliers on the market that offer 100% renewable energy tariffs. But that doesn’t necessarily make them green energy suppliers. In the table below, we’ve compiled a list of green energy suppliers and why we love them!
|Supplier Name||Why we love them|
|Bulb||Bulb offers 100% renewable electricity and green / carbon offset gas. It is, in fact, the UK’s largest buyer of green gas for homes. It has only one variable rate tariff. This “Vari-Fair” tariff is adjusted regularly to ensure that it provides the best value energy on the market.|
|Ecotricity||Ecotricity is not just a green energy supplier. It’s the UK’s only vegan energy supplier, approved by The Vegan Society. It supplies 100% renewable electricity and makes its own green gas. It also funds and anti-fracking campaigners.|
|Good Energy||Good Energy is the UK’s first green energy supplier, and has been generating renewable electricity since before the turn of the millennium. They also offer 10% biomethane and 90% carbon-offset gas with a great range of tariffs.|
|Green Energy UK||They may not be the cheapest energy supplier on the market, but Green Energy UK certainly lives up to its name. It provides 100% renewable electricity, as well as 100% green gas.|
|Octopus Energy||A relative newcomer that’s consistently one of the highest rates suppliers for customer service and value for money. Octopus Energy has much to recommend it, but it also offers 100% renewable electricity and 100% carbon-offset gas. All at some of the best prices on the market today.|
|Outfox The Market||While Outfox The Market does not (yet) offer green or carbon-offset gas, it does offer 100% renewable electricity. True to its name, Outfox The Market is constantly checking the cost of wholesale energy and adjusting its prices accordingly.|
Who has the most balanced energy mix?
While all of the above offer 100% renewable electricity, some of the suppliers have a more balanced energy fuel mix than others. You may want a supplier that not only offers renewable electricity, but renewable electricity from a balanced range of sources.
With this in mind, we’ve compiled information on each green energy supplier’s fuel mix in the table below:
|Energy Supplier||Energy Fuel Mix|
|Bulb||78% wind, 18% solar, 4% hydro|
|Good Energy||53.9% wind, 28.4% biomass, 13.4% solar, 4.3% hydro|
|Ecotricity||97.42% wind, 2.07% hydro, 0.51% solar|
|Green Energy UK||Solar, biomass, hydro and wind (percentages not disclosed)|
|Octopus Energy||75.3% wind, 21% solar, 3.7% hydro|
|Outfox The Market||100% wind energy|
Which is the best green energy supplier?
That’s a tricky one to answer. It really depends on where your priorities lie. If you’re looking for the supplier with the best green credentials, Ecotricity is your best bet. Especially if you have a plant-based diet and lifestyle. They are approved by The Vegan Society, meaning that none of the green gas they generate is sourced from animal by products. Green Energy UK also has excellent renewability, offering 100% green gas and electricity.
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However, if you’re looking for a supplier that offers a good mix of green credentials, customer service and value for money, Bulb and Octopus energy are both excellent all-rounders.
Who is the cheapest green energy supplier?
Renewable energy isn’t just great for the planet, it can also be great for your bank balance. Some green energy suppliers also offer some of the best value tariffs on the market. These include:
- Octopus Energy
- Outfox The Market
How do you measure the greenness of a supplier?
There is no established criterion for measuring how green a supplier is. However, there are certainly some questions that you can ask yourself when researching an energy supplier online. Take a good look through their website and see if you find answers to the following questions:
- Do they offer 100% renewable energy tariffs?
- If so, is their energy fuel mix exclusively renewable? Some suppliers (including the “Big 6”) have green tariffs but their overall fuel mix is not 100% renewable.
- Is their gas carbon-offset?
- Do they use biomethane as well as / instead of natural gas?
- Are they vegan society approved?At the time of writing, only Ecotricity can make this claim.
- Do they invest in green projects to ensure a more renewable future for the energy market?
What are the advantages and disadvantages of a green energy plan?
By now, hopefully the advantages of choosing a green energy plan and supplier are obvious. But are there any disadvantages to these plans? In the table below, we’ll look at some potential pros and cons.
|Green Energy Plan Pros||Green Energy Plan Cons|
|You’re voting with your wallet for a more sustainable future and lowering your household’s carbon footprint.||The pressure to invest in green energy and buy REGO certificates to appease Ofgem has put some smaller energy suppliers out of business.|
|You could save money, as many of the UK’s cheapest suppliers offer renewable energy.||Some of the UK’s green energy suppliers are cheaper than others.|
|More than 50% of tariffs offered in the UK have some renewability credentials. So you have more choice than ever.||Solar, biomass and wind power take up land that could be used for farming. They can also be hazardous for local birds and wildlife.|
|Energy from renewable sources (such as biomass and biomethane)also helps to combat the problem of domestic and industrial waste.||Some consider wind turbines to be an eyesore.|
|The renewable energy sector creates thousands of new jobs every year.||Dedicating more land to renewable energy generation is a potential risk to the UK’s biodiversity.|
What kinds of green energy are there?
In the UK, we get our energy from a great many sources, and the presence of coal and oil in our energy fuel mix is slowly shrinking. While much of our nation’s electricity still comes from burning gas, this is at least a much cleaner form of energy than burning coal and oil. However, it still has a carbon footprint (117 lbs of carbon for every million BTUs of heat produced).
The following forms of energy are completely carbon neutral with no harmful emissions whatsoever.
Solar power is a relatively small but growing presence in our national energy mix. While we have a reputation for gloomy weather, that doesn’t mean that we can’t generate over 13,000 MW of solar power per year.
At the time of writing, there are 425 solar farms all over the country. These vary in size from 1-100 acres. They are usually found in rural and areas, and some share space with arable farmland. The largest solar farm in the UK is Shotwick Solar Park in Flintshire, North Wales. This massive site is spread across 250 acres, with a total capacity of 72.2 megawatts.
Furthermore, there are also in excess of 800,000 homes throughout the UK that use PV solar panels to generate energy. What isn’t directly used to power homes is fed back into the National Grid. Energy suppliers pay their customers for this energy. This is done via Feed in Tariffs and their new replacement, the Smart Export Guarantee.
The UK is the largest supplier of wind energy on the planet. There are currently 2,450 on and offshore wind farm sites across the country and along our coastlines, with a total of 10,911 wind turbines shared between them. The biggest of which is the new Hornsea One which has the capacity to power a million homes on its own.
Our overall wind energy capacity is an astonishing 24,000 Megawatts (MW).
An unsung hero of the renewable energy industry, but one that can always be relied on in a crisis. Hydroelectricity is generated by capturing the kinetic energy of bodies of water. Because hydropower stations are fast and effective, the National Grid often relies on them to generate energy at peak use times when energy demand exceeds our base load.
Finally, biomass energy is generated by burning sustainably sourced wooden pellets instead of coal or oil. In the second quarter of 2020 we generated 8.42 tWh through biomass. This is not only a great source of renewable energy, it’s also a useful way to deal with the problem of waste wood, of which the UK sends 8.5 million tonnes to landfills every year.
What about nuclear?
There is much debate as to whether or not nuclear power should be considered a green source of energy. While it’s true that nuclear energy creates no dangerous carbon emissions, it does require finite natural resources (i.e. uranium) to power the nuclear reactors. What’s more, the generation of nuclear power generates irradiated waste which needs to be dealt with in a way that does not damage the planet.
Is there such a thing as green gas?
Yes, as a matter of fact there is. Many green energy suppliers also apply either renewable or green gas and carbon-offset gas.
Renewable green gas is a gas called biomethane which comes from farm, animal and plant waste. The alternative is carbon-offset gas, where the carbon generated by sourcing natural gas is offset by renewable energy projects that the supplier undertakes all over the world.
Let us help you find the perfect green energy plan for your needs
With more green energy suppliers to choose from than ever before, finding the right tariff for your needs can be a painstaking and time-consuming process. The good news is that we’re here to do the hard work for you.
We can scour the market to find the cheapest green energy deal for your needs and usage, helping you find the perfect balance between renewability and affordability. We can even manage your switch from end-to-end to bring you cheaper, greener energy quickly and 100% hassle-free.
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Is Green Energy more expensive?
Not at all. In fact, some of the cheapest suppliers on the market use 100% renewable energy such as Bulb, Octopus Energy and Outfox The Market. As our renewable infrastructure grows, it’s becoming cheaper than ever to generate green energy. And suppliers can pass those wholesale savings onto you, the customer.
Energy match, Green investment or Carbon offsetting? Which is better?
All of these are important if we’re to create a renewable future for the energy industry. However, while energy matching and carbon offsetting are great ways to nullify the environmental impact of generating energy, suppliers need to invest in 100% renewable energy generation, generating more energy from waste products e.g. biomethane.
Who supplies green gas?
Several energy suppliers offer at least some green gas / biomethane as part of their gas mix. These include:
* Good Energy
* Octopus Energy
Is nuclear energy considered green energy?
Although nuclear energy generates no carbon emissions, it cannot truly be considered a green energy source. This is partly because of the amount of irradiated waste that it generates, and partly because it uses finite resources (i.e. uranium) to power its reactors.
Updated on 9 Sep, 2021
Consumer Energy Expert