Power ahead: renewable energy

Changes to the energy sector
Changes to the energy sector

Green energy is something that has come from a green source – a renewable source that means the wind, the sun or the sea as it is defined…

Companies get a certificate for every unit they source sustainably, or which is produced in the industry in a renewable way, which comes with a guarantee of origin from the renewable source that makes it green.

The added benefit is that often it is sold it at the same or similar price as regular electricity, meaning that companies who are 100 per cent green don’t charge a premium.

A lot of green energy companies will be government certified and a number of different certifications are available. The unit of energy certification is called a “rego”, which is a renewable energy guarantee of origin. It’s a project that is guaranteed to be certified as renewable, so one that meets the requirements of the renewable operations certificates.

Being able to say that a company is green is about “proving that you’ve got the certificates for your supply. If we’re supplying 100 units of electricity, we need to ensure that we have a hundred regos,” notes Neveu.

Another certificate that can identify an energy supplier's sustainable credentials is the ROC issued to operators of accredited renewable generating stations for the eligible renewable electricity they generate. Operators can trade ROCs with other parties and they are ultimately used by suppliers to demonstrate they have met their obligation. All of these certificates have to be registered with Ofgem to prove to what extent the energy providers meet their renewable responsibilities.

Interestingly, renewable energy isn’t supplied direct to the customer, but instead is supplied to the energy source. Green Energy’s Blashill describes it like this: “We would use the analogy of a pool of water in a valley with all the houses getting their energy from the lake, but there are various sources of water going into that lake, some of which are renewable and sustainable.

”We see it as our responsibility to ‘green’ up the lake and bring into the valley sufficient renewable energy [for the consumption requirements of local residents].”

Sustainability has become much more important and there is a bigger drive to engage with companies that are more environmentally conscious. Ecotricity reports that it has a number of SMEs that are interested in green energy because of the ethical sustainability aspects, something that will hopefully increase the number of companies that opt for green energy.

Ecotricity alone is responsible for supplying 160,000 domestic customers, but also supplies 10,000 companies across the UK, ranging from small SMEs right the way across to larger companies. According to Blashill, the number of small businesses engaging with the green energy sector looks likely to increase “particularly as we leave the recession and cost becomes less of the core focus. As far as that’s concerned, consumers are definitely beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel.”

In the next instalment of our energy series, we provide some top tips for reducing your energy bills…