Showcasing the greenest energy providers in a broken marketplace
Renewable energy suppliers have received plenty of criticism lately as the cost of renewable tariffs rise in line with fossil fuel tariffs. While there are systemic issues at play in the UK energy market causing this apparent lack of fairness, it is also true there are energy suppliers striving to offer the greenest tariffs possible to their customers.
The Choose Green Energy Awards 2022 aimed to highlight the outstanding work being done by some suppliers, as well as reiterating the problems faced by the current system governing renewables and how this affects consumer confidence.
Three suppliers were named as Excellent in the 2022 Awards: Ecotricity, Good Energy and GEUK.
This trio of suppliers received a derogation from Ofgem’s default tariff price cap due to their support for renewables. It means they can charge more than the rates set out in Ofgem’s bi-annual price cap because they have demonstrated they are offering “materially greater” support to renewables than would otherwise be obtained through current mechanisms and subsidies.
As such, it is unsurprising they are the greenest suppliers in the UK, offering genuinely green tariffs and promoting sustainable investment in further renewable projects. Their commitment to green energy is visible throughout their organisations and is at the heart of their decision-making processes.
Three major suppliers were also recognised as Good green providers: E.ON Next, Octopus Energy and Scottish Power. These providers are bound by the price cap yet also invest heavily in renewable generation and are committed to green initiatives.
It is crucial to identify when suppliers are offering a truly green customer experience rather than paying lip service to the idea of being green and employing “greenwashing” tactics to make energy seem greener than it is.
Greenwashing has served to undermine customer confidence in renewable tariffs, especially given the hefty price increases households are about to see. Customers simply cannot understand why the tariffs that were sold to them as 100% renewable are now rising at the same rate as tariffs that make no such promises. This is a failure of the system and it is also a failure of communication.
The current energy system in the UK permits and even encourages greenwashing. As long as energy providers can buy Renewable Energy Guarantee of Origin (REGO) certificates on the open market to cover the electricity used by their customers, there is no incentive for companies to invest directly in renewables here in the UK. Looking at it from the energy provider’s point of view, why would they bother paying the extra to invest? If the system is encouraging this regressive behaviour, the system needs to be changed.
It's also true that communication around renewable energy in the UK is confusing at best. That is why we’re seeing a backlash against renewable tariffs which customers were erroneously led to believe were better. This risks derailing the strategy to get the UK to net zero, since customers must trust in the system and understand how it works to participate in it effectively. At present, the system is too complex for the average consumer to understand, let alone make informed decisions about.
One positive step Government and regulators could take would be to break the connection between renewable pricing and fossil fuel pricing. If renewables could be priced competitively against fossil fuels, there would be more incentive to invest and customers would feel as though their choice of a renewable tariff could have a tangible impact both on the planet and on their wallets.
It’s likely we’re about to see the Government change course on renewables in the name of national security, promoting more investment than ever before. Yet none of this will matter if customers are left disillusioned and disenfranchised by a system that puts greenwashing ahead of actual green energy.
The Choose Green Energy Awards 2022 were designed to shine a light on the suppliers who are already approaching green energy in the right way. In an energy market that is brimming with confusion, we hope we can help customers feel empowered to make the greenest choices they can.