Green Energy Suppliers: What Consumers Need To Know

We’re currently in the midst of a green revolution. It’s become cheaper than ever to generate energy sustainably, and those savings can now be passed on to the consumer. More and more energy suppliers are offering 100% renewable energy tariffs that are good for the planet and our carefully managed household budgets. If you’ve always relied on the “Big 6” for your energy, you may be surprised by how many green energy suppliers there are in the market today. And by how much you could save when you switch to a green energy plan.

Last update: April 2022

As you may have heard on the news, the UK energy market is currently under an immense amount of stress as a result of a global gas shortage driving up costs and putting several energy suppliers out of business. To learn more about this and stay updated on a daily basis you can read our page on the UK energy crisis.

Over the past few decades, we’ve been investing more and more in eco-friendly ways to generate the energy we need to power our homes and businesses. While the burning of coal, oil and natural gas are still a part of our energy fuel mix, the UK is leaning more and more heavily on renewables.

What is green energy?

Let’s start at the very beginning. When we talk about green energy, we’re referring to energy that’s generated using 100% renewable and carbon-neutral means. For decades, our energy industry has relied on the burning of fossil fuels to generate electricity. But ever since the early 20th century, the UK has invested in greener alternatives. Alternatives that do not use up our planet’s finite natural resources or send dangerous carbon emissions into our atmosphere.

Today, renewables account for over 28 terawatt hours (tWh) of our national energy fuel mix, far eclipsing coal and oil use.

What is a green energy tariff?

A green energy tariff is an energy tariff that uses electricity that’s generated through 100% renewable means. There are some green energy providers that exclusively offer these tariffs. However, even suppliers that don’t have a 100% renewable energy fuel mix may still offer renewable energy tariffs.

Some green energy tariffs will also use carbon-offset or green gas. Green gas (biomethane) is an alternative to natural gas from the ground. Carbon-offset gas is where the carbon generated by sourcing natural gas is offset by carbon-neutral or carbon-negative investments and projects that the supplier commits to.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of a green energy plan?

In an era where green energy is more available and affordable than ever, a green energy plan could be a great choice for your household. Still, it’s important to weigh the potential advantages and disadvantages of this kind of tariff before you commit to one.

Let’s take a closer look…

Green Energy Plan Advantages Green Energy Plan Disadvantages
A green energy plan lowers your household’s carbon footprint, and helps to increase demand for a more renewable energy market. Ofgem puts a lot of pressure to invest in green energy and buy REGO certificates. This can create terminal cash flow problems for smaller low-cost energy suppliers with miniscule profit margins.
It’s a potential money saver. Many of the UK’s cheapest energy tariffs are also green. Some of the UK’s green energy suppliers are more expensive (more on that later).
They’re more available than ever, with over 50% of tariffs offered in the UK using renewable energy. Not all forms of renewable energy are completely carbon-neutral, which is why it’s still important to see a green supplier’s energy fuel mix.
Renewable fuel sources like biomass and green gas (biomethane) can prevent agricultural waste from becoming an environmental hazard. Some consider wind turbines to be an eyesore and a detriment to our green spaces.
The renewable energy sector creates tens of thousands of new jobs every year. The more land we dedicate to generating renewable energy, the less we have for agriculture to feed our growing population, increasing our reliance on imports in a post-Brexit economy.

List of green energy suppliers

If you’re looking for a new green energy tariff, it’s easier to find one than ever before. There are a growing number of green energy suppliers that offer 100% renewable electricity and either carbon-offset or green gas.

Complete list of green energy suppliers

All of the “Big 6” energy suppliers offer at least one 100% renewable energy tariff. Some, like SSE and Scottish Power even generate their own green energy.

The Big 6 are:

  • British Gas
  • SSE / OVO
  • E.On
  • Scottish Power
  • EDF
  • N Power

There are also a great many smaller and independent suppliers that offer at least one energy plan that is 100% renewable. These include:

  • Bristol Energy
  • Bulb
  • Click Energy (only available in Northern Ireland)
  • Co-Op Energy
  • Ecotricity
  • ESB Energy
  • Good Energy
  • Green Energy UK
  • Green Network Energy
  • Gulf Energy
  • LoCO2
  • M & S Energy
  • Octopus Energy
  • Orbit Energy
  • Outfox The Market
  • PFP Energy
  • People’s Energy
  • Pozitive Energy
  • Pure Planet
  • Shell Energy

Our favourite green energy suppliers

As you can see, it’s easier than ever to find a renewable energy tariff. In fact, there are so many options that you may not know where to start.

In the table below, we’ll take a look at some of our favourite green energy suppliers and why we’d recommend them:

Supplier Description
Bristol Energy One of several 100% municipally-owned energy suppliers in the UK, Bristol Energy provides 100% renewable energy. And because there are no shareholders to appease by hoarding profits, their prices are eminently affordable prices. Bristol has recently been acquired by Together Energy, but is still taking on new customers.
Bulb Bulb offers 100% renewable electricity and green / carbon offset gas and is the UK’s largest buyer of green gas for homes. It has no fixed tariffs, just one “Vari-Fair” variable tariff that is adjusted regularly to ensure market-leading value for money.
Click Energy Energy consumers in Northern Ireland can benefit from affordable green energy and free advice on reducing your household’s carbon footprint with Click Energy.
Ecotricity Ecotricity is, to date, the UK’s only completely vegan energy supplier, approved by The Vegan Society. It supplies 100% renewable electricity and makes its own green gas from completely plant-based sources of agricultural waste. It also funds and anti-fracking campaigners. It may not be the cheapest supplier, but it’s probably the greenest!
Good Energy The first ever green energy supplier in the UK, Good Energy has brought renewable electricity to the market since 1999, as well as 10% biomethane and 90% carbon-offset gas.
Green Energy UK Green Energy is one of the most sustainable suppliers on the market, providing both 100% renewable electricity, as well as 100% green gas.
Octopus Energy A relative newcomer that’s consistently one of the highest rates suppliers for customer service and value for money. Octopus Energy has much to recommend it, but it also offers 100% renewable electricity and 100% carbon-offset gas. All at some of the best prices on the market today.
Orbit Energy Orbit Energy is a partner of Shell Energy that specialises in 100% renewable energy tariffs. As well as offering affordable energy plans, they have a “Track The Cap” tariff that is always guaranteed to be 5% below Ofgem’s Energy Price Cap year-on-year.
Outfox The Market While Outfox The Market does not (yet) offer green or carbon-offset gas, it does offer 100% renewable electricity. True to its name, Outfox The Market is constantly checking the cost of wholesale energy and adjusting its prices accordingly.
Pure Planet Pure Planet is a 100% “digital-only” supplier. This means that they offer no call centre support and can pass the operational savings on to you. Customers can still get support via email or live chat.

Which is the best green energy supplier?

That’s a tricky question to answer. It really depends on what metrics are the most important to you? Are you looking for a green energy supplier that will also save you money, or are you happy to pay a little extra for a supplier that goes the extra mile to be sustainable? Do you need to have a call centre to help you feel supported by your supplier? Or are you perfectly happy with an online-only supplier and tariff?

If you’re looking for a good all-rounder, we suggest:

  • Bulb
  • Octopus Energy
  • Good Energy

green energy suppliers

Who is the greenest supplier?

All suppliers are required by Ofgem to have some renewables as part of their energy fuel mix. And as we can see, many suppliers have at least one 100% renewable tarif. But that doesn’t necessarily make them a green supplier, as they may still use fossil fuels as part of their energy fuel mix.

If you’re looking for the greenest suppliers, you’ll want to choose a supplier that exclusively uses 100% renewable electricity and 100% green biomethane gas (as opposed to natural gas from underground) for the lowest possible carbon footprint.

In which case, you’re best served by:

  • Ecotricity
  • Green Energy UK
  • Pure Planet

Who supplies green gas?

Green gas is biomethane sourced from farm, animal and plant waste, via the process of anaerobic digestion. It is a growing presence in our energy fuel mix as an alternative to natural gas from shale rock under the sea bed. Not only does it provide a useful and renewable alternative to a finite natural resource, it also burns cleaner than natural gas. What’s more, using depleted arable soil to grow plants to generate green gas can improve the soil structure and make it more nourishing for future crop growth.

Biomethane has become a growing presence in the UK’s gas mix over the past decade. It’s also predicted that by 2030 the UK could have the capacity to generate 5.7 billion m3/year of biomethane. That’s enough to heat 4.5 million homes!

Pure Planet, Ecotricity and Green Energy UK offer 100% green biomethane gas.

Bulb, Octopus Energy, and Good Energy all combine green gas with carbon-offset natural gas.

Who is the cheapest green energy supplier?

That depends on where in the country you live, your usage, and what kind of meter you have. That said, in the table below we have compared some of the most affordable green energy suppliers. Estimated annual usage is based on national average unit rates and consumption of 2,900 kWh of electricity and 12,000 kWh of gas per year. For each supplier, we’ll take an estimated annual spend on their cheapest tariff compared to the Energy Price Cap which currently stands at £1,042 per year for both gas and electricity:

Supplier & Tariff Estimated Annual Spend Savings Against Energy Price Cap
Octopus Energy Octopus 12M Fixed £940.71 £101.29
Bulb Varifair £923.26 £118.74
Outfox The Market Fix’d 20 £904.44 £137.56
Pure Planet 100% Green Fixed 12 month £888.92 £153.08

Is green energy more expensive?

Not at all. In fact, some of the most competitively priced energy tariffs on the market today offer 100% renewable energy. For instance, let’s take a look at the cheapest tariff in the table above, Pure Planet’s 100% Green Fixed 12 month tariff. In the table below, we’ll compare it to the UK’s average kWh spend for gas and electricity in 2020 to see how it stacks up on a monthly and annual basis. Again, this assumes usage of 2,900 kWh of electricity and 12,000 kWh of gas.

Electricity Unit Rate & Standing Charge Gas Unit Rate & Standing Charge Estimated Monthly Spend Estimated Annual Spend
National Average 14.37p per kWh 20.58p standing charge 3.80p per kWh 24p standing charge £86.29 £1,035.45
Pure Planet 100% Green Fixed 12 month 14.65444p per kWh £6.67 membership fee 2.7846p per kWh Membership fee applies £74.08 £888.92

We’ll strive to help you find an energy deal that offers outstanding value for money as well as bringing renewable energy to your home.

Green Energy Suppliers

How green is my energy supplier?

We’re more aware than ever of how the choices we make can affect the planet that we all share. Everything from how we get to work to the food we put on the table can impact our household’s carbon footprint.

However, we’re not always aware of whether or not our energy supplier is as eco-conscious as we are. Why it’s a good idea to take a look at your current supplier and see whether they have the green credentials that you expect from them. If not, it may be worth switching to a green energy supplier. You could probably save money while also drastically reducing your carbon footprint.

COVID-19

More than ever, our team of experts remain on deck to help you make savings on your energy. We understand how deeply the lives of many are affected by these trying times and we want to support you the best we can. More on your energy supply during COVID-19 in our article.

How do you measure the greenness of a supplier?

Lots of energy companies will talk a great game about investing in a renewable future, and putting images of dew-covered leaves in their branding. But as savvy energy consumers, we need to look past the marketing bluster and see what really makes an energy supplier green.

For instance:

  • Take a look at their energy fuel mix. Just because a supplier offers renewable tariffs doesn’t mean their energy mix is 100% renewable.
  • See if they offer carbon-offset or green gas as well as green electricity.
  • Look at what investments they’re making in renewable technologies to bring you cheaper, greener energy in future.

Energy match, Green investment or Carbon offsetting?

All of the above are important methods when it comes to achieving a more renewable energy sector. But what do they mean?

Energy matching

This is where an energy supplier matches the energy that their customers supply with sustainable renewed energy from wind, solar, biomass or hydropower.

Green investment

This is something that all energy suppliers should be doing, and Ofgem holds them to account by ensuring that they supply Renewable Energy Guarantees of Origin (REGO) certificates on the energy that they buy.

Green investment means not only buying energy from renewable sources, but investing in the infrastructure to generate their own green energy.

Carbon offsetting

Where a supplier cannot offer green gas, they offset the carbon generated by burning natural gas elsewhere. This often comes in the form of renewable energy projects at home and overseas, to ensure that the gas customers consume is net carbon neutral.

Which is better?

All of the above are, without doubt, important. However, green investment is clearly the future. Although the other two can mitigate the environmental impact of using fossil fuels, green investment can ensure that we look forward to a completely renewable energy sector within our lifetimes.

And that’s no pipe dream. Iceland, Costa Rica, Paraguay, and Norway all have (or are close to having) 100% renewable energy sectors.

Who has the most balanced energy mix?

You may wonder what renewable energy sources are part of each supplier’s energy fuel mix, and which has the most balance between different forms of renewable energy. In the table below, we’ve compiled energy fuel mix data for some of the UK’s most popular green energy suppliers.

Energy Supplier Energy Fuel Mix
Bristol Energy Wind, solar and hydro (percentages not disclosed)
Bulb 78% wind, 18% solar, 4% hydro
Good Energy 53.9% wind, 28.4% biomass, 13.4% solar, 4.3% hydro
Ecotricity 97.42% wind, 2.07% hydro, 0.51% solar
Green Energy UK Solar, biomass, hydro and wind (percentages not disclosed)
Octopus Energy 75.3% wind, 21% solar, 3.7% hydro
Orbit Energy Wind, solar and hydro (percentages not disclosed)
Outfox The Market 100% wind energy
Pure Planet 89% wind energy, 11% solar

Let’s take a closer look at these different types of energy and view the advantages of each.

What types of green energy are there? What are the pros and cons of each?

The UK energy sector is predominantly dependent on wind power. In fact, we’re the world’s largest generator of energy from wind turbines. We also generate a lot of energy from solar power, and a little bit from biomass. Here we’ll look at each kind of renewable energy in turn and the pros and cons of each.

Wind energy

Wind energy uses windmills that are strategically placed in large, flat expanses of land (or offshore areas close to the coast) that get strong winds due to changing air pressure as hot air rises and cold air sinks. These windmills are grouped together in formations called wind farms.

The large blades of the windmills catch the wind and rotate, driving a turbine which in turn generates electricity. This electricity is then pumped directly into the National Grid. In the UK, we currently have 2,450 on and offshore wind farm sites, sharing a total of 10,911 wind turbines and 24,000 Megawatt capacity.

Wind energy pros

Wind energy has a great many inherent advantages:

  • It’s 100% renewable. As long as there’s wind, we’ll be able to generate carbon-neutral energy!
  • It’s cheap. In fact, as of 2017 it’s cheaper to generate energy through wind than by burning natural gas.
  • It’s space-efficient. The space between wind turbines in on-shore farms can be used for growing crops, raising cattle or simple wilding to restore our nation’s biodiversity.
  • It creates millions of jobs and drives innovation.
  • It reduces our need for imported energy. Something that will be increasingly important in the wake of Brexit.

Wind energy cons

Wind energy has a great many advantages. But it’s not without its caveats. For instance:

  • Creating wind energy infrastructure is very expensive. The London array (one of our biggest wind energy projects) cost £1.8 billion to plan and construct.
  • Wind energy is dependent on the caprices of the weather, making it hard to accurately predict how much energy can be generated.
  • Wind turbines can be viewed as an eyesore by local communities and impede the view of our nation’s countryside.

Solar power

The UK has a sizeable solar power network. As well as over 800,000 homes and business generating energy with their own photovoltaic (PV) solar panels, there are also huge solar farms that use the same panels on a much larger scale. While domestic solar panels generate power for the homes they occupy, any excess energy can be fed back into the National Grid to power the nation. Suppliers pay for this energy via Feed in Tariffs or their new replacement the Smart Export Guarantee.

Whether it’s at work in solar forms or on residential rooftops, this scalable technology adds to our impressive solar capacity of 13,000 MW.

Solar power pros

There are many reasons why we love solar power. These include:

  • Solar power is one of the greenest forms of clean energy there is, with no emissions or by-products.
  • The technology is highly scalable and increasingly affordable. So households can become collectives of renewable energy generators.
  • Solar energy generates tens of thousands of new jobs every year.
  • Solar panels are extremely low maintenance, both at small and large scale.

Solar power cons

As great as solar power is, it also has some disadvantages too. Such as:

  • While PV solar panels themselves are theoretically recyclable, there are not yet many facilities for this at the time of writing.
  • The manufacture of solar panels results in harmful emissions and toxic waste water.
  • Like wind energy, solar power is reliant on the weather. And it’s not as though the UK is known for its consistently hot and sunny days.

Biomass

Biomass involves the creation of electricity or heat energy by burning wooden pellets made from waste wood. Something of which the UK has an abundance, with 8.5 million tonnes heading to our landfills every year. Biomass works in the same way as burning fossil fuels. The heat generates steam, which drives a turbine to generate electricity. As well as using biomass to generate electricity, it can also be used for renewable domestic heating, with biomass boilers providing an alternative to traditional gas boilers.

At the time of writing, the UK has a biomass capacity of over 10,225 MW. In Q2 or 2020 alone, biomass accounted for 8.42 tWh of energy generated. More than 15 times more than coal and oil combined.

Biomass pros

Biomass is a much greener way to generate energy than burning fossil fuels. Here are just a few of its advantages:

  • It’s near-infinitely renewable
  • It creates a productive way to use waste wood (including agricultural waste)
  • It is reliable as it is not dependent on the weather

Biomass cons

Like all forms of renewable energy, biomass also has some inherent disadvantages. For instance:

  • Although biomass generates very few carbon emissions compared to fossil fuels, it is not completely carbon neutral
  • Biomass boilers are too large and expensive to be practical in most homes
  • Biomass only works if the wood pellets are sourced sustainably and responsibly

How do I switch to green energy?

Finding the perfect balance between renewability and affordability can be tricky when you’re searching for a new energy supplier. Fortunately, the Papernest team can take care of the heavy lifting for you.

Not only can we search the market high and low to bring you the perfect green supplier and tariff, we’ll even manage your switch from end-to-end to ensure that you get cheaper, greener energy quickly and without fuss.

Call us today on 0330 818 6225 to find out more. We’re available from 9am to 7pm.

Call us to switch your energy supplier for free!

0330 818 6225

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FAQ

My supplier has a 100% renewable energy tariff. Does that mean they’re a green supplier?

Not necessarily. Although a growing number of suppliers have at least one renewable energy tariff to their name, this just means that they match your consumption with energy from renewable sources. It doesn’t make them a green supplier, as they still supply some energy from fossil fuels. A green supplier is one that offers 100% renewable energy as well as carbon-offset or green gas.

Is green energy more expensive?

Not at all. In fact, some of the most competitively priced energy tariffs on the market today offer 100% renewable energy. We’ll strive to help you find an energy deal that offers outstanding value for money as well as bringing renewable energy to your home.

How much green energy does the UK produce?

The UK produces more wind energy than any other country in the UK with a capacity of 24,000 MW. We also have 13,000 MW solar capacity and just over 10,000 MW biomass capacity. In Q2 of 2020, the UK produced over 28 tWh of renewable energy.

Why should I use 'green' energy?

There are a great many reasons why you should consider using green energy:

  1. It reduces the industry’s reliance on fossil fuels
  2. It helps to reduce harmful carbon emissions
  3. It contributes to thousands of new jobs in renewable energy
  4. It helps us to reach our target of 100% carbon neutrality by 2050
  5. It can even save you money, too!

What is the Green Energy Act?

The 2013 Energy Act (also known as the Green Energy Act) was a piece of legislation designed to slowly decarbonise the UK energy industry, and create market reform (overseen by Ofgem) to make the energy market more competitive, reliable, consumer-friendly and environmentally conscious.

Updated on 24 Jan, 2022

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Energy Specialist & Copywriter