UK energy firms' claims over green tariffs could be 'misleading'

If in doubt over renewable energy and tariffs, check your suppliers' claims. Photo: Alex Iby/Unsplash

Many UK energy firms could be misleading customers with “green energy” tariffs, Which? has warned.

About 40 UK energy providers in the UK sell tariffs marked “100% renewable energy”. But some do not directly source any green electricity, the consumer group found.

Which? told PA these firms “tend to buy their electricity on the wholesale market” – meaning they “likely” include fossil fuels.

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They then purchase Renewable Energy Guarantees of Origin (REGO) certificates, which offset their energy customers’ use with renewable energy already in the system.

These certificates can be bought for as little as 30p per megawatt-hour.

Which? found Green Star Energy, Ovo Energy, Pure Planet, Robin Hood Energy, So Energy, Tonik Energy and Yorkshire Energy all sell “green energy” tariffs that rely on REGO certificates. Some firms refused to provide information.

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This is not against Ofgem rules, which only require energy providers selling “100% renewable energy” tariffs to have REGO which “prove” it.

However, the definition of “renewable energy” is not clear enough, and firms not transparent enough, for customers to make informed decisions, Which? report says.

Which? also found that some firms, such as Good Energy and Ecotricity, do generate or purchase enough renewable energy to match customers’ usage.

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Richard Headland, editor-in-chief of Which?, told PA: “As consumers grow ever-more environmentally-conscious, it’s concerning that some suppliers appear to be ‘green-washing’ their energy tariffs, which could risk misleading customers.

“We believe there needs to be greater clarity on how renewable energy is defined and marketed.

“People can only make informed decisions about where to buy their energy from if firms are more upfront and transparent about their green credentials.”