Want to know how green your electricity really is?

Different energy tariffs will have different environmental impacts.

Lots of us these days are choosing our energy tariff for its environmental impact. Climate change is a real threat and we all have a part to play in cutting CO2 emissions.

But getting your head around green energy can be a bit tricky. So, in this article we’ll explain some of the key things to look out for when choosing energy suppliers and energy tariffs.

And don’t worry – acronyms like FMDs and REGO might seem a bit dry and complex at first, but we’ll soon get you up to speed!

How can I compare suppliers?

If you want to see how green different energy suppliers really are, it’s actually a lot simpler than you might think.

Ofgem is the energy regulator and they require all companies to publish something called the Fuel Mix Disclosure, or FMD.

This shows exactly where and how each company’s electricity is generated – so you can instantly see if it uses lots of CO2 emitting fuels like coal and gas, or mainly renewables like wind and solar.

What does a Fuel Mix Disclosure (FMD) look like?

An energy supplier’s FMD should be simple enough for anyone to quickly understand. As an example, here’s what the FMD for British Gas electricity looks like:

British Gas Fuel Mix Discclosure table for 1st April to 31st March 2020
Energy Source British Gas Average UK Average
Renewables 76% 38%
Nuclear 24% 17%
Coal 0% 4%
Natural gas 0% 39%
Other fuels 0% 2%
CO2 emissions 0g/KWh 205g/KWh
High-level radioactive waste 0.0017g/KWh 0.0012g/KWh

As you see, all British Gas electricity is zero-carbon as standard, so our customers know their electricity usage never creates CO2 emissions.

Most of our electricity comes from renewables like wind and solar, but around a quarter comes from nuclear. This is zero-carbon, but it’s not renewable as it uses nuclear fuel.

Understanding greener tariffs

The FMD above is for our standard electricity tariff. But like a few suppliers these days, we also offer other tariffs for customers who want to make an even bigger contribution to the environment.

This chart shows you how these greener tariffs compare with our standard tariff:

British Gas Fuel Mix table
Energy Source Green Tariffs Our other tariffs
Renewables 100% 70%
Nuclear 0% 30%
Coal 0% 0%
Natural gas 0% 0%
Other fuels 0% 0%
CO2 emissions 0g/KWh 0g/KWh
High-level radioactive waste 0g/KWh 0.0021g/KWh

Renewables account for the majority of our standard tariff, but they make up 100% of our green tariffs. The way this works isn’t straightforward, so it’s worth explaining some background.

Why ‘100% renewable’ is a little bit complex

Electricity isn’t like a lot of products you buy. With something like food or furniture, it’s possible to trace back every part and say exactly where it came from.

But electricity is different. Once it enters the National Grid, electricity from different sources gets completely mixed up.

So, when you boil the kettle, it’s impossible to say where and how the kilowatts of energy you’ve just used were generated.

Was it a wind farm in the North Sea? A hydroelectric plant in Scotland? A nuclear power station in Kent? Or a gas-fuelled power station in Oxfordshire?

It could easily have been a mix of all of them!

'100% renewable’ explained

So, if electricity is all mixed up as soon as it enters the grid, how can you as a consumer buy a tariff that’s 100% renewable?

It’s all to do with the energy your supplier puts back into the grid to replace what you’ve used – and also something called REGOs.

Renewable Energy doesn’t have to be a complex term.

What are REGOs?

REGOs are Renewable Energy Guarantees of Origin.

They’re certificates issued by Ofgem, the energy industry regulator, to prove that units of electricity really were generated using renewable sources like solar or wind.

That makes it possible for energy companies to buy 100% renewable electricity from the energy market to replace every unit of energy you use at home.

So when you choose a 100% renewable tariff, your energy supplier will match all of your consumption with REGOs.

And that means you can be confident the energy you use every day has the lowest possible impact on the environment. Which is exactly what more and more of us want.

Keen to go green?

We all have a part to play in getting the UK to Net Zero as quickly as possible. See how British Gas can help you do your bit for the planet by exploring our articles on sustainable living.

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