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Renewable energy what are the costs?

Many energy companies now offer green tariffs, which usually take one of two forms; a green power supply or a green fund. If you choose a green power supply then for every unit of electricity you use, an identical amount of green energy is produced. On the other hand, a green fund costs you extra each month, but the energy company then invests this into renewable energy projects. Some companies offer nothing but green energy tariffs, such as Ecotricity, Good Energy and Green Energy UK. Also, many of the “big 6” energy providers offer green tariffs if you are prepared to pay a premium on bills.

With so many green electricity tariffs on the market, it can be hard for consumers to distinguish between the genuinely green and the “greenish”. One important measure of “greenness” is the fuel mix disclosure, as it demonstrates an energy supplier’s commitment to renewables. All suppliers are required to provide information about the mix of fuels used to generate the electricity supplied to their customers, as well as its environmental impact. Known as the Fuel Mix Disclosure, suppliers must publish this information annually and notify their customers. The average proportion of renewable electricity supplied in the UK is 29% (2017-2018), with some providers supplying more or less.

The table below provides the fuel mix disclosures for a variety of energy suppliers, including the big 6 and specialist green energy suppliers, in order of the percentage renewable.

Fuel Mix Disclosure Data of various suppliers

Supplier Coal % Natural Gas % Nuclear % Renewable %  Other % Disclosure Year
Ecotricity 0.0 0.0 0.0 100.0 0.0 2018
Good Energy 0.0 0.0 0.0 100.0 0.0 2018
Green Energy UK 0.0 0.0 0.0 100.0 0.0 2018
Hudson Energy 0.0 0.0 0.0 100.0 0.0 2018
Opus Energy 0.0 0.0 0.0 100.0 0.0 2018
Ørsted 0.0 0.0 0.0 100.0 0.0 2018
Solarplicity 0.0 0.0 0.0 100.0 0.0 2018
Haven Power 1.9 10.1 3.1 84.3 0.6 2018
Gazprom 3.0 17.0 5.0 74.0 1.0 2018
Smartest Energy 3.7 19.5 5.9 69.5 1.2 2018
Total Gas & Power 10.0 31.0 9.0 47.0 3.0 2018
British Gas 7.0 37.0 11.0 43.0 2.0 2018
Engie 8.0 43.0 13.0 34.0 3.0 2018
Dual Energy 8.5 44.0 21.0 24.3 2.2 2018
Corona Energy 8.5 44.1 21.0 24.2 2.2 2017
SSE 7.0 65.0 5.0 21.0 2.0 2018
Npower Limited 9.8 52.3 15.9 18.7 3.3 2018
e.on 10.1 53.5 16.2 16.8 3.4 2018
Scottish Power 7.0 66.0 10.0 15.0 2.0 2018
EDF Energy 7.6 9.4 71.2 11.7 0.2 2018
First:Utility 11.7 61.9 18.8 3.7 4.0 2018
UK Average 7.6 41.2 20.0 29.0 2.1 2018

Using this information from the Fuel Mix Disclosure, and from independent research carried out by Powerful Allies, it is possible to draw up a table in which the main suppliers are subjectively rated on their ability to produce green power. In addition, this table provides a summary of some of the green tariffs available, and what the providers are doing to help consumers be greener within their business. This can be seen in the table below.

Efficiency of electricity generation

Suppliers Fuel Mix (% Renewable) Further Information Green Rating (High, Medium, Low)
 Ecotricity  100.0% 2017/18 fuel mix: 71.58% offshore wind, 27.60% onshore wind, 0.70% hydro, 0.12% solar.
Sun parks: 1 operating, 1 building, 4 planning.
Wind parks: 24 operating, 1 building, 3 planning.
Sea: developing Searaser sea mills, collaborated on Snapper electrical generator.
Gas: currently supply 14% green gas, planning to build green gas mills to increase tris, gas they supply comes with shale Frack Free Promise.
Currently around 30% of their electricity is from their own windmills.
Also offer vegan energy (production doesn’t involve animals or animal by-products).
 Good Energy 100.0% 2017/18 fuel mix: 57% wind, 20% biogeneration, 18% solar, 5% hydro
Electricity comes from growing community of independent renewable generators, along with their own seven solar farms and two wind farms.
6% of their Green Gas comes from biomethane, and emissions are balanced through verified carbon-reduction schemes.
Green Energy UK  100.0% Energy generated from hydro, solar, wind, biomass and anaerobic digestion.
Offer gas that is certified 100% green.
 Hudson Energy 100.0% Around 50% of their renewable electricity is from hydroelectric generators, 40% from wind.
Offer 2 renewable tariffs:
100% Renewable
100%+ Renewable, where you can choose the source of your electricity (wind, solar or hydro, or a mixture of the three)
Opus Energy  100.0% Energy sources: 45% wind power, 31.2% photovoltaic (PV/solar), 16.3% biomass & landfill gas, 7.0% hydropower.
Between April 2016 and March 2018, 95% of energy supplied came from renewable generators.
Ørsted  100.0% Have built more offshore wind capacity than any other company worldwide, and have installed over a quarter of the market’s current capacity.
Have already invested £8 billion in UK wind projects and are investing a further £4 billion by 2020.
11 operational offshore wind farms in the UK, with 2 more in construction and 3 more in development.
Offer renewable electricity contracts at no additional cost.
Offer contracts with 100% offshore wind power from their own UK wind farms.
Also offer businesses 100% green gas.
 Solarplicity  100.0% 2017/18 fuel mix: 50% biofuels, 34% wind, 13% hydropower, 3% solar.
Have built over 120MW of their own Solar installations across the country.
Also have Power Purchase Agreements with solar, hydro, wind and bio generators across the UK.
Haven Power 84.3% Their renewable electricity is made up of 39% photovoltaic, 33% biomass, 12% thermal/CHP, 11% wind, 5% hydropower.
Parent company Drax generates electricity from responsibly-sourced, compressed wood pellets; this produces 86% less carbon than coal-generated energy.
Drax generates more than 11% of the UK’s total renewable electricity.
Their sustainable biomass electricity costs no more than conventional power.
Gazprom 74.0% 7 year deal to purchase hydroelectric power from 10 sites across the UK.
15 year deal to purchase electricity from up to 40MW of solar farms in the UK.
Previously had deals to purchase landfill gas.
Offer an Eco Gas product which enables you to offset gas consumption, with an amount of renewable energy sent back to the grid (through the GGCS scheme)
Smartest Energy 69.5% Natural Renewable product: 66.4% wind, 19.4% hydro, 14.2% solar PV.
Renewable Standard product: 93.7% wind, 5.6% waste, 0.7% biomass.
Specific Renewable product: allows you to choose the renewable sources.
All renewable products are backed by origin certificates.
Portfolio of over 600 generation projects including wind, hydro, wave & tidal, biomass, landfill gas, energy from waste, solar and battery storage.
Total Gas & Power 47.0% Offer Eco-Energy gas (typically recycled from food and farm waste) and electricity (generated from natural resources including the sun, wind and sea) products.
Have been committed to developing renewable energies, and solar energy in particular, for more than 30 years.
British Gas 43.0% Invest in renewable power generation, in particular offshore wind farms.
Centrica (parent company) are investing in green gas, in particular production of biomethane from biomass.
Offer a Renewable Energy for Business product, certified by the Carbon Trust.
Engie 34.0% The group has a photovoltaic park with a total capacity of 1,850MW worldwide, with 1,219MW further under construction.
They also have 4,791MW of onshore wind power installed around the world, with 1,345MW further under construction, and are investing in offshore wind power projects in Europe.
Have carried out a number of biomass research projects, and have over 50 sites generating electricity from biomass.
Dual Energy 24.3% No further green information. L
Corona Energy 24.2% Biogas from UK renewable generators.
Offer green electricity tariffs as well as green gas certification.
SSE 21.0% Expected to total 4GW of renewable operational assets by 31st March 2019, comprising hydro, onshore wind, biomass, offshore wind and marine.
Have invested over £4 billion in renewable sources of generation since 2007.
Offer SSE Green, a 100% renewable electricity tariff backed by Ofgem’s REGO scheme.
NPower Limited 18.7% Part of Innogy Group, which operates 25 hydroelectric power schemes, 32 onshore and 3 offshore wind farms.
Have installed its first biomass CHP power plant in Scotland.
Can help companies set up renewable energy projects.
Offer REGO-backed renewable energy as an option in its fixed and flexible contracts.
e.on 16.8% Have invested over £2.4 billion in renewables in the UK and operate almost 1GW of renewable capacity.
Partners in the world’s largest offshore wind farm.
Have 16 operational onshore and 5 operational offshore wind farms in the UK, as well as two dedicated biomass power stations.
Offer REGO-backed renewable energy tariffs.
Scottish Power 15.0% Part of the Iberdrola Group, a world leader in clean energy with an installed capacity of over 29,500MW.
Scottish Power are the UK’s leading wind generator, with 40 operational windfarms across the UK producing over 2,000MW.
EDF Energy 11.7% Own 34 wind farms, including two offshore wind farms, and one of the largest operational battery storage units in Europe.
786MW in operation, 177MW under construction, and more than 1.5GW in planning and development.
Offer a Renewable for Business tariff.
First:Utility 3.7% No further green information. L