Big energy companies often promote their renewable tariffs under an eco-friendly banner. Terms like Renewable, Green, and Low Carbon are used seemingly interchangeably alongside colourful graphics representing solar, wind or hydro generation.
Scratch the surface however, and these products may not be all that they seem...
The reality is that these products often incorporate energy from ‘dirty’ sources. For example:
Widely encouraged and subsidised by European Governments (including ours), burning biomass for energy has become very popular. This is despite a multitude of studies and experts claiming these practices are even more environmentally damaging than burning coal. That is not to mention the deforestation required to produce the pellets, or the oil-fuelled ships used to get them here...
Clearly there’s more going on with renewables than meets the eye, but how well is this communicated to consumers?
In auditing the big energy company websites, we discovered a confusing variety of terms, compounded by an total lack of consistency or definition.*
*See below for an in depth evaluation of products offered by the Big 6.
On 26 April 2018 we surveyed 2,110 consumers, representative of the UK population. What we found makes for very interesting reading:*
* This research was carried out by Populus on behalf of Squeaky. Fieldwork took place between the 25th and 26th April 2018 to a UK sample of 2,110 adults aged 18+ and weighted to the profile of all UK adults. Populus is a founder member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Further information at www.populus.co.uk.
We’re calling on energy industry regulator Ofgem to develop and enforce a clear standard labelling system for energy products, a little like the colour-coded nutritional information on pre-packaged food.
Here’s something we made earlier…
These simple and clearly-defined labels would provide the information that people need to make informed choices about the source of their energy.
On 30 April 2018 we audited information available on these energy company’s websites about their ‘green’ tariffs, to try to understand what terms they use, what sources they contain, and how consistent they are. Here’s what we found.
*British Gas and SSE only seem to show renewables/low carbon tariffs for business customers. It’s not possible to find a similar tariff for a residential customer
*All providers are part of the REGO scheme to prove to the final customer that a given share of energy was produced from renewable source