Green energy

What is ‘green’ energy?

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‘Green’ energy might’ve been a premium before, but prices are becoming competitive thanks to concerns over fossil fuels

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What is green energy?

Green energy is energy we get from renewable sources, rather than non-renewable sources like oil or coal. It’s called ‘green’ as producing power from these sources cuts down the negative impact on the environment by producing a smaller carbon footprint.

Where does green energy come from?

The renewable sources used to make green energy include:

  • Wind power – Usually harnessed by wind turbines
  • Solar power – Produced when sunlight is absorbed by solar panels and converted into power
  • Hydroelectric power – Where large volumes of flowing water turn a turbine, producing energy
  • Wave power – Captured from ocean waves as well as rivers, lakes, and canals. These waves are caused mostly by the wind.
  • Tidal power – Made by the energy produced as the tide changes, which happens as a result of the moon’s gravitational pull.
  • Biofuels – When biological material such as plant matter are used as a fuel source

The way we produce green energy has become much more efficient, which means we can generate more power than we’ve ever been able to before. For example, the average 2.5MW onshore wind turbine can now generate enough electricity to power 1,500 average EU households for a year, while modern domestic solar panels have efficiency ratings of over 20%, compared to less than 10% just a few decades ago.


See how much of the energy produced by the National Grid comes from renewable sources.

According to data from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy from 2017, accurate as of March 2018.

How much of our energy is green?

Between July and September 2018, renewable fuel sources produced 33.1% of the UK’s electricity, a record high of 98.9TWh according to government research – the only fuel source to have a higher share of the market was gas (38.6%). This is an increase on the renewable energy contribution from the same period in 2017, which was only 29.4% of the market.

This is great news, as Britain looks to get closer to the 2020 target of 30% of electricity and 12% of heat generation coming from renewable energy.

What are feed-in-tariffs?

A feed-in-tariff is when households or businesses are paid to generate their own power through green methods like solar panels or wind turbines. The extra power produced is sent back to the National Grid, but the exact amount you’ll be paid depends on how much you produce, and how much of it is sold back – with the rates being set by Ofgem. It’s a way of encouraging people to contribute more directly to the green energy effort by literally making their own electricity.


What makes renewable or green energy?

Is green energy more expensive?

If you’re interested in a green energy supplier, it’s well worth checking the available tariffs. Some smaller providers will have deals that often compete with more mainstream providers, especially those of the Big Six: British Gas, E.ON, SSE, npower, EDF and Scottish Power.

Green energy is more popular

Green energy tariffs may also be getting more competitive due to the rise of public interest in the renewable energy sector. For example, the percentage of people who are in favour of using renewable energy in the UK rose to 85% in 2018, as reported by the Department of Energy and Climate Change – up from 79% in the previous year.

This goes hand in hand with increased concerns about climate change, as 74% of people asked said they were very or fairly concerned, 3% more than the year before, in a recent survey about the future of renewable energy.


Why don’t people switch to green energy tariffs?

According to consumer research carried out on behalf of MoneySuperMarket, between 29th March to 3rd April 2018, with a sample comprised of 2,005 nationally representative UK adults, aged 18 years old and above.

Why aren’t people switching to green tariffs?

40% of people said the main reason for not switching to a green energy tariff was that it wasn’t the cheapest or most affordable option. However 13% of consumers are currently on a green tariff, and out of the people who had switched over 44% said they had done so to save money, according to research carried out for MoneySuperMarket.

This could be why some UK specialist energy suppliers are offering more competitive prices, in order to take advantage of the growing interest. It could mean that in the future everyone who switches over to a green tariff might see their bills become cheaper.

 “It’s no surprise that our survey found the primary barrier to switching to a green tariff is that they haven’t been amongst the cheapest. But that’s beginning to change: we’ve seen on a number of occasions that the cheapest switchable tariff on MoneySuperMarket has been 100% renewable energy. Green energy can now become a positive choice that isn’t restricted by price”

– Stephen Murray, Energy Commercial Manager at MoneySuperMarket.

Who are the green energy suppliers?

Green energy suppliers provide the grid with ecologically sourced power, which is then split across the UK. Among them are providers such as Green Star Energy, Ecotricity and Green Energy, whose tariffs are included in our energy comparison tool.

Mainstream suppliers that offer green energy tariffs, as well as dedicated green energy suppliers, get a bigger proportion of their fuel from renewable sources. You can check how much renewable energy your supplier (or any other) is producing by looking at its ‘fuel mix’ information. It shows how much of the power they sell has come from coal, gas, nuclear sources, renewable sources and other sources, so you can see how green their electricity really is.

This information should be on their website, because suppliers are required by Ofgem to publish these figures annually. You may be able to find this on your energy bill or statement, while you can also contact your supplier directly to inquire.

It’s worth noting that even if your tariff is for 100% renewable energy, this is never guaranteed. All the electricity produced in the UK pools in the National Grid before being distributed to consumers, including electricity from both green and non-green sources, so you can never really know exactly where your electricity is coming from.

See how many people have a green energy tariff

According to consumer research carried out on behalf of MoneySuperMarket, between 29th March to 3rd April 2018, with a sample comprised of 2,005 nationally representative UK adults, aged 18 years old and above.

How can I be greener at home?

There are a few things you can do to make your home greener – from changing the way you use appliances and energy to improving your home’s efficiency.

Some steps are easy to take, like washing your clothes at lower temperatures, turning off appliances that might be draining electricity, or showering in off-peak hours. Small changes like this can add up and make a real impact on the amount of energy you use for everyday things.

There are also more drastic measures you can turn to that might cost more in the short term, but can help reduce how much power your home uses. For example, investing in more efficient appliances once your current ones near the end of their life, or improving the heat-keeping ability of your home by installing roof insulation, double glazed windows, and various draught-proofing measures.

For a more complete rundown, read our guide on energy saving tips for more ways to make your home greener and save on your energy costs.

How to make your home greener

Green business energy

If you own a business you could also benefit from switching your business energy supplier, and MoneySuperMarket can help you find a better business energy deal. All you need to do is call us on 0800 088 6986, and our energy experts will help you compare deals from multiple providers so you can save money on energy for your business.

How can I compare green energy prices?

Comparing energy prices can be another good way to cut your bill down, and it’s easy to get started. You just need to give a few details, including your current supplier, your postcode, and information for payment and contact.

On MoneySuperMarket you can see all the different tariffs available, whether they’re from one of the Big Six or the many others energy providers found on our site. You can compare estimated annual and monthly costs, as well as how much you could save each year if you switch.

Switching suppliers is pretty straight-forward – it’s mostly handled by the providers, and all you’ll need to do is keep a recent bill handy so you can compare prices and find the best deal. There won’t be a loss of supply or any new installations, and the process could be finished in up to 6 weeks. Switching could also help you save £238* a year on your energy bill. Find out how to switch energy suppliers if you have a prepayment meter.

*51% of customers that applied to switch via MoneySuperMarket could save at least £238.25, August 2019.

Switch and save with Energy Monitor

Switching your energy supplier is quicker and easier with MoneySuperMarket’s Energy Monitor. We’ll let you know as soon as there’s a cheaper tariff available for you, so you can effortlessly switch and save money on your energy bill.

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