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Britain’s greenest energy suppliers

Image: utilityweek.co.uk

​It’s funny how all the gas and electricity suppliers are trying to persuade us that they have the greenest credentials.

In-fact the first energy company in Britain (and the world) to offer green electricity, way back in 1995, was Ecotricity.

Now there are quite a few companies offering green electricity and it may appear that there’s little to choose between various 100% green tariffs, however if you dig a little deeper, it’s a different story.

Green electricity is often thought of as having zero emissions, but that’s not strictly true – at the point of generation it’s true, but that overlooks quite a lot.

A true picture of the emissions associated with any source of electricity, green and brown, is on a lifecycle basis – it’s an honest approach that takes into account the emissions involved in the manufacture, installation and operation of the equipment over its entire life. On that basis, all forms of electricity have some carbon emissions – some more than others. If you calculate the carbon content of the electricity supplied by all Britain’s energy companies on the lifecycle basis, the numbers come out as shown in the graph (based on grams CO₂ produced per kWh electricity generated).

Based on grams CO₂ produced per kWh electricity generated

The next generation of green energy is ‘Green Gas’, and once again Ecotricity was the first energy company in Britain to offer this form of energy. That was back in 2010 – and Ecotricity had to go to Holland to find it.

Things have moved on since then. A growing number of energy companies are offering green gas now and it is being made in small quantities in Britain. It’s currently made from either food waste or an energy crop – but both of these have their problems environmentally.

Ecotricity have been looking closely at how best to make green gas in Britain and have come up with a very different approach – using grass.  It’s neither food waste nor energy crop and offers significant benefits for wildlife and for local economies – as well as a significantly different environmental impact.

Finding the lifecycle carbon emissions for green gas is not as easy as it is with electricity. It’s something that is currently being researched.

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