The energy industry can be confusing at the best of times but when it comes to renewable energy it can be increasingly confusing. Many energy suppliers use descriptions like renewable, green, low carbon and offset which can seem better and more environmentally friendly, however, not all these terms mean that the energy is derived from clean energy or as environmentally friendly as you may think.
Low carbon is really a term for energy that is not ‘clean’ but has a lower carbon footprint than traditional energy generation from power stations using gas or coal. Renewable energy also includes biomass which is energy derived from burning wood pellets that are generally imported from abroad and therefore its carbon footprint can be greater when you include transportation emissions. Biomass is classed as a renewable energy source, but it is not a clean source of energy as it releases particulates and carbon dioxide when it is burnt as well as transportation emissions.
So, how do you know which energy is the cleanest?
Clean energy hierarchy
The cleanest or greenest energy sources are wind, solar, wave, tidal, hydropower and geothermal. In the UK, we have seen a sharp increase in renewable technology as these technologies have started to become more affordable and the return on investment has shortened to make them viable. Onshore and offshore wind farms have increased with many more planned. Solar PV has increased massively on both domestic and commercial settings, largely due to the government’s Feed in Tariff scheme.
Lower carbon sources of energy include biomass, waste incineration and biofuels which are cleaner than fossil fuels, but these do have a carbon footprint from transportation and burning. In addition, biomass can also be harmful to the environment if the wood pellets are not sustainably sourced as it could increase deforestation.
Imported renewable energy is also part of the UK energy mix to help energy suppliers meet the requirement and demand for renewable energy. However, other countries within Europe do not necessarily have the same standards as the UK or definitions of renewable energy so it may not match our expectations.
Although nuclear energy is not renewable energy it is deemed as being a low carbon source of energy which has been favoured by many countries including the UK as a cleaner and more sustainable source of energy. In the UK, nuclear energy has been viewed as the way forward to reduce CO2 emissions and meet carbon reduction targets, however, renewable energy has become much more viable and economically affordable in the last few years.
Although renewable energy from wind and solar is taking a larger share of the UK energy market its reliability in generating energy when it is required is holding it back. However, with advancements in energy storage, this may soon remove this issue and allow renewable energy to play a larger role in the UK energy generation market.
How do I know how green my energy is?
Most energy suppliers are obligated to publish their electricity generation mix which allows you to see how their electricity was generated. You can find this information on most energy suppliers’ websites.
Why choose cleaner energy?
Cleaner energy is not only better for the environment, but it also can help your company’s credentials and help you meet your own carbon targets and reporting such as the new SECR. Being a responsible and environmentally friendly business is a great way of increasing your business’ credentials with customers and employees.
Renewable energy doesn’t always come at a premium these days, so it is worth finding out how renewable energy compares.
How do I choose the best and cleanest energy supplier?
This is where Enerteq can help you as we can find the best energy supplier for you based on price and energy generation mix. We can also advise you on how to reduce your energy consumption as well. Contact Enerteq today on 01423 815299 or click the button below and we’ll be happy to offer some advice.