A guide to choosing a green energy supplier

In 2016 21% of UK electricity came from renewables, the other 79% came from coal (8.8%), Oil (2.7%), imports (5.2%), gas (42.8%) and nuclear (19.2%). Most renewable energy sources were plant and animal biomass, landfill gas and solar photovoltaics (PV).

The numbers may suggest green energy is still on the back foot but as renewable goes there is a lot of good news. In the past few years there have been major reductions in the costs of key renewable technologies, for example between 2010-15 the cost of solar photovoltaics (PV) fell by 60% and onshore wind by 30%.

In addition, the use of coal has dramatically fallen due to it being undercut by cheap shale gas and the falling cost of renewables. The result is that CO2 emissions from UK electricity generation in 2016 were approximately half those in 2010.

So how does one go about choosing the right green energy supplier? The following guide rates the UKs green energy companies against:

-       Environmental Reporting

-       Commitment to reducing climate change

-       Their levels of pollutions and toxics

-       Company ethos and commitment to human and workers’ rights

-       Supply Chain Management

Where rating is not mentioned it means that from our research the supplier receives top ratings against the above criteria.

Suppliers are listed 1-5 based on research from Ethical Consumer as well as Flor + Cesta’s own research.

1.     Ecotricity

  • 100% of electricity supplied by Ecotricity is green and gas is frack free
  • Recommended energy supplier by Amnesty International, Friends of the Earth, Triodos (ethical) bank, RSPB, Sea Shepherd and The Vegan Society
  • All energy is made from the wind and the sun. A third they make themselves from their fleet of windmills and sunmills, the rest they buy from other green generators
  • They are setting up ‘Green Gas Mills’ to generate gas from grass to provide a viable alternative to fracking in Britain. Find out more about Ecotricity’s plans for green gasmills.
  • Politically active in campaigning against fracking and for green gas alternatives
  • Came out as the cheapest provider per month when quote obtained, alongside Good Energy (£3 more expensive per month than Good energy)
  • Rated number 1 in the Flor + Cesta green energy guide due to their commitment to green gas production, robust reporting and political activity to bring renewables to the forefront of energy consumption in the UK

2.     Bulb

  • 100% renewable electricity (85% Hydro and 15% biogen) and 10% green gas (biomethane)
  • A certified B corporation, but scored the worst rating possible for Environmental Reporting in the Ethical Consumer Index
  • Committed to a fair and transparent renewable energy future for the UK
  • A carbon neutral organisation
  • For every new customer that joins bulb they donate £2 to Trees for Cities
  • Came out as the cheapest provider per month when quote obtained, identical costs as Good energy

3.     Good Energy

  • 100% of electricity supplied by Good energy is green (from solar, wind, hydro and biogen) and 6% of gas (biomethane)

  • They encourage independent energy generation by purchasing their renewable electricity from over 1000 independent generators, from local farmers to sustainable businesses

  • Currently developing their own wind and solar farms to respond to increased customer demand
  • They invest in new generation projects
  • They received the worst rating possible for environmental reporting in Ethical Consumers Index
  • Came out as the cheapest provider per month when quote obtained, identical costs as Bulb

4.     Robin Hood

  • A not for profit, gas and electricity supplier who say they have an ambition to reduce fuel poverty across the country, however when a quote was obtained they came out as more expensive than other providers such as Ecotricity
  • Company uses a mix of green energy (solar, energy from city incinerators and waste food plants), as well as buying in gas and electricity from the market
  • From Flor + Cesta can gather it is not possible to choose only renewable energy sources for your home through Robin Hood
  •  Scored the worst rating possible for Environmental Reporting in the Ethical Consumer Index

5.     Green Energy UK

  • Scored the worst rating possible for Environmental Reporting in the Ethical Consumer Index

  • Difficult to ascertain which renewable sources of energy they are using

  • Pricing on par with other green energy suppliers

Please note that the UKs big 6 energy suppliers do not feature here as after extensive research they have been deemed non-starters for those looking for a sustainable, green energy supplier with Scottish Power, npower, British Gas, EON and EDF scoring poorly across all the criteria used in this guide.

 

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