Can I buy green electricity through the grid using a 'green tariff'?

Electrical socket

Getting green energy is easy

It is now very easy to change your electricity supplier. If you choose a company that only supports renewable energy, your money will not go to companies that operate or build fossil-fuel power stations.

Signing up for a 'green tariff' from a company focused only on renewable energy is a great way to support the renewable energy industry. Changing your supplier won’t make any difference to the way that electricity comes into your home, or how you are billed.

You can also support CAT by signing up with the renewable energy suppliers Good Energy or Ecotricity. See our Partnership page for more details and links.

Please note that the small companies that specialise in renewable energy may not be part of the 'Warm Home Discount' scheme (although if they get enough customers they will be brought into it). This scheme gives a rebate to people at risk of fuel poverty, such as those receiving Pension Credit Guarantee Credit and some others. In these circumstances you may want to stay with a larger provider that gives this rebate.

What about green tariffs from other companies?

It is important to understand that for green tariffs to have an impact on the overall share of renewable energy in the UK electricity grid, many hundreds of thousands of people need to sign up.

Under the government's Renewables Obligation (RO) all electricity providers are required to produce some electricity from renewable sources or pay a fine. This means that a green tariff offered only as one of a range of tariffs by a large power company can be simply selling the renewable electricity the power company is legally required to produce!

Using companies that only sell renewable electricity and that re-invest your electricity bill payments in building more renewable electricity generation gives a strong signal that there is demand for more renewable energy, and that people are not willing to support fossil-fuel power companies. Only if enough people sign up for renewable energy tariffs with these suppliers will demand for renewable electricity rise above the minimum government requirements. Therefore, as well as signing up yourself, encourage others to do the same.

I'm on a green tariff - so can I use as much electricity as I like?

It’s important to bear in mind that signing up to such a tariff does not mean you can leave all your lights on!

If you use more electricity through your green tariff it means that less renewable electricity is left for those that are not on green tariffs - and so more coal and gas is burned to meet their electricity use. See our energy conservation page for more advice on reducing energy use in the home.

Also, every means of generating electricity has some environmental impact, including the energy and materials that go into manufacture and installation. Energy saving measures are important for making it easier to meet our electricity needs with energy sources such as wind farms, and wave and tidal power. There is a lot more about how we can meet all our energy needs using a renewable energy powered grid in the reports and summaries written for our Zero Carbon Britain project.

Contacts

Ecotricity - http://www.ecotricity.co.uk - 08000 302 302
  Green electricity supplier that uses the money received from customers to build wind farms.
Good Energy - http://www.good-energy.co.uk - 0800 254 0004
  Provide green electricity tariffs: the electricity supplied is from wind, wave, small scale hydro and solar power.
Green Energy UK - http://www.greenenergy.uk.com - 0800 783 8851
  Offer green electricity tariffs that source either a proportion or 100% of your electricity supply from renewable energy.

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