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Which? names Ecotricity as a top Eco Provider

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By Olly Rose
8 Nov 2021

We’re delighted to reveal that consumer champion Which? has chosen Ecotricity as one of only three energy companies deserving of their Eco Provider award.

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Which? looked at 40 energy suppliers and assessed them based on:

• The amount of power they generate or buy directly from green generators

• How much of the electricity they sell is renewable

• Whether they match customers’ energy use with renewable power

• Whether they use carbon intensive power like electricity generated from fossil fuels

• How much green gas they sell

• Their transparency – are they open on their website about their energy sources?

Our Eco Providers are long-standing sustainable frontrunners” – Which? October, 2021

Building new sources of green energy

Which? placed particular importance on how much green power a supplier generates themselves, or buys directly from green generators.

It’s a key question. For energy companies, the only kind of action that makes a genuine difference in the fight against climate change is building new sources of green power. Anything else is just fudging around the issue.

We’ve always done this - we call it turning bills into mills. This was directly recognised by Which? who noted that Ecotricity “puts customers’ money towards building new renewable generation.”

We’re always conscious of the fact that it’s our customers who make all this possible. We have a responsibility to choose projects that will make the biggest impact in creating a green Britain.

That’s why, right now, we’re building two large solar parks next to two of our existing wind parks in Leicestershire and Devon, using the latest bifacial technology. We’re also installing our first grid-scale battery, to store green energy for when it’s most needed.

Next year, we’ll be bringing the first ever geothermal energy to Britain, generating electricity from hot rocks deep under Cornwall. We’re also building the country’s first green gas mill near Reading - this will make enough green gas for 4,000 homes, using grass as a feedstock.

Let’s end greenwashing

Choosing a green energy supplier isn’t always simple because it can be a murky business. Greenwashing – claiming something is greener than it really is – has become so widespread in the energy market that the regulator OFGEM is considering taking steps to control it, and we hope they do.

Which? says: “It’s so murky that the government department BEIS has called for evidence to ‘explore the extent of “greenwashing” in the energy sector’. The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has published new guidelines on making environmental claims too.”

If you choose green energy for your home or business, you might expect that the money you pay would go towards increasing the amount of renewable power in the National Grid. That isn’t necessarily happening right now. Certificates called REGOs (“Renewable Energy Guarantees of Origin”) can be used to make energy sound greener than it really is.

The problem with REGOs

For each unit of green energy made, a REGO is issued, like a birth certificate. However, REGOs can be detached from the green energy itself and sold separately. This becomes a problem if trading green certificates is all a supplier does. About 50p spent on certificates will cover a typical household’s energy for a whole year, but the energy actually supplied to the house could come from any source.

The Committee on Climate Change said that unbundling REGOs from power ‘could mean that the supplier of the green tariff is not actually purchasing renewable electricity, but it’s simply purchasing the certificate’” – Which? October 2021

Some companies buy green energy along with REGO certificates from generators and supply it to their customers. This is better. However, the energy is typically from a source that’s already been built. It already exists and is part of the national supply. When one company buys it, another one loses it – it’s a transfer of existing green energy.

Trading green energy and certificates does have a role to play, as creating demand for them increases the value of green energy, and incentivises more sources of it. Ultimately though, to directly make a difference, trading has to be combined with actually building new sources of green energy, as that is the only activity that moves the dial.

As Britain’s greenest energy company, we’re aware that we need to walk the walk. We’re always transparent about where our energy comes from - something Which? recognised with full marks for this section of their analysis.

Sustainability is there in everything we do and we’re aiming to be carbon neutral by 2025, while continuing to build more green energy sources.

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