How ‘green’ is your green energy tariff?

Written by Lori Campbell on 30th Mar 2021

Uswitch has launched a first-of-its-kind accreditation scheme to help consumers see just how ‘green’ a renewable energy tariff is.

The Uswitch Green Accreditation will be given ‘bronze’, ‘silver’ and ‘gold’ awards, depending on the level of clean energy suppliers directly buy and how much they invest in the growth of the renewables industry.

According to a new poll by the price comparison site, a third (33 per cent) of households now have a ‘green’ tariff from their energy supplier, but more than half (52 per cent) are confused about what actually makes these deals green.

Around one in five (17 per cent) don’t believe that wind power is green, while seven per cent wrongly consider that burning gas is. More than a third (36 per cent) of households are not sure if they are on a green tariff or not.

Despite UK homes receiving the same energy mix (unless households are solar powered or connected directly to a generator), more than a quarter (29 per cent) of households wrongly believe that a green tariff means the power supplied to their home is 100 per cent renewable.

A quarter of consumers (25 per cent) also say ‘jargon’ and ‘confusing information’ stopped them from choosing a green deal last time they switched energy suppliers, while another 9 per cent said they do not believe that green tariffs are better for the environment.

The Gold standard

Gold tariffs provide 100 per cent of renewable electricity and 10 per cent of green gas. These tariffs will also provide a meaningful contribution towards increasing and/or promoting renewable energy. This might involve investing in future renewable generation, such as wind or solar and market innovations, for example.

Four Good Energy tariffs (SVT Electricity, Good to Fix Electricity, SVT Gas and Good to Fix Gas) have been named as the first tariffs to be classified as Gold, with more tariffs from other suppliers to be announced soon.

A panel of independent experts has verified the criteria that the tariffs are being assessed against, and in particular is seeking to recognise standout examples of best practice from suppliers. The panel will review the criteria annually to ensure it reflects current market conditions, making sure customers can always trust they are choosing a tariff that reflects best practice at the time.

Four Good Energy tariffs (SVT Electricity, Good to Fix Electricity, SVT Gas and Good to Fix Gas) have been named as the first tariffs to be classified as Gold.

Silver and bronze

Silver accreditation is given to tariffs that include 42.9 per cent of electricity bought directly from renewable generators via so-called power purchase agreements (PPAs).

Dual fuel tariffs that have slightly less electricity purchased via PPAs (around 32.9 per cent) can still reach Silver Standard if they include some green gas (biomethane) in the gas mix and/or offset the gas consumed through schemes that can be traced to specific carbon offset projects.

Bronze tariffs provide electricity that is matched with renewable generation certificates. Suppliers can buy these certificates from renewable energy generators and they show how much renewable electricity has been put on the grid.

Richard Neudegg, head of regulation at Uswitch, said: “Green tariffs are increasingly in demand from those who want to do their bit for the environment, but it’s clear that there’s a vast gulf between the perception and the reality of what makes up these deals.

“Our accreditation system is an industry first, and will make it easier for consumers to make an informed choice when selecting a green energy deal, based on where the energy actually comes from and how much the tariff contributes towards renewable energy in future.

“It’s evident that confusion in the renewables space has been brewing for some time and we want to be on the front foot to help consumers identify the varying levels of green that are being presented to them.

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