Is Ecotricity Really That Green?

As a subscriber to The Ecologist magazine every month I regularly see an advert for Ecotricity, "The World's First Green Electricity Company" asking for subscribers to sign-up for an Ecotricity tariff and help fight climate change.

The fact of the matter is that although Ecotricity is admirably trying to push the green energy agenda it is unable to totally fulfil the promise of providing clean, green, environmentally-friendly energy. For the moment that is.

Take a look energywatch, the energy watchdog's, list of suppliers' fuel mix disclosure. What it reads is that Ecotricity IS the greenest of the main suppliers (apart from Good Energy), providing 24% of its energy from renewables up to March 2007. However it still has a similar amount of energy from gas (23.8%), coal (22.8%) and an even higher amount of nuclear energy (25.9%). According to the figures the amount of nuclear energy making up ecotricity's offering is above the national average (18.6%)
Well, it would be nice if everybody could sign-up and get 100% green energy but the truth of the matter is that there isn't enough of that green energy to go 'round.
But wait, that fuel mix disclosure chart noted that Good Energy is providing 100% renewable energy, so how come we never see campaigns for Good Energy?

We're not knocking Ecotricity, merely pointing out that they're not quite as green as the general perception of them tends to be, but more customers equals more profit which leads to further investment in renewable energy. That's got to be a good thing.

Tags: 

Comments

Heya,

I have been looking into this recently - isn't the point about green energy that there currently isn't enough supply to meet demand?

Energy companies who don't build new supplies (wind farms etc) but who do 100% green are just using up already limited supplies?

Ecotricity spend more per customer than any other energy company on building new sources of green energy (http://www.whichgreen.org)

I could be wrong though - the market is pretty confusing and drowning in greenwash...

Maybe it seems like we're picking on Ecotricity here, but, as you rightly point out Nommo, there's not enough green energy to go around.

It's a dilemma that Ecotricity can drum up business and pull in customers looking for green energy when the truth is that it cannot supply 100% green energy.

In all fairness, their expenditure on renewables is superior to the other big energy players, so for now it's a question of sitting back, taking and paying for what green energy you can and hoping that the honesty and ethics of the company is such that they do replace the traditional energy they use with renewable energy.

Only time will tell.

In the meantime everybody can do their bit to reduce demand by switching off unused lights, turning off unused computers and electrical equipment, insulating their homes etc.

Nommo is right... Green energy is about more than just generating 100% renewable energy for your existing customers. It's about increasing the capacity to generate enough renewable energy to start taking share away from non-renewable sources.

It seems counter intuitive, but the more customers who switch to a company such as Good Energy (who aren't dramataically increasing capacity) means that there is LESS renewable energy in the mix for other consumers.

The only way to improve capacity is to actively build more renewable sources, such as wind farms.This is the reason I switched to Ecotricity a few years ago. It takes investment to build capacity, to the larger energy companies renewables are an expensive distraction, and the smaller green companies the lack of customer base means they can't actively invest very much. The single-minded approach of Ecotricity means they're focussed on building more capacity as quickly as they can, increasing their fuel mix towards renewables, and reducing our reliance on non-renewable sources of power.

I'm with you on this, SF. I think it needs to be made clearer that by going to Ecotricity customers will still be using a percentage of old fuels but will be investing heavily in new sources. Eventually we will reach a level where we'll have more renewables than fossil fuels, that day can't come soon enough except that there is still the debate of where to put all the wind-generators for instance... but that's another issue.

Ecotricity seem to be the genuine green energy supplier with green tariffs from other companies providing a much smaller amount of renewable energy. And then there's the total greenwash brigade with companies like E.ON becoming a major player and yet hardly reducing our dependence on fossil fuels.