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  • Writer's pictureThe Climate Coach

Does moving to a renewable electricity tariff actually mean anything?

Updated: Oct 27, 2022

Many energy providers offer "100% renewable" electricity tariffs. Is this just another marketing trick? Or does it make a difference? If so, how?

Well let's start with what it doesn't mean. Unfortunately, moving to a renewable electricity tariff doesn't mean that you are provided with only electricity that is generated by renewables. This simply isn't possible because we are all connected to the same national grid - so you can't just filter out the non-renewable electricity to magically ensure you only get renewable electric to your house.

Oh right - does that mean it's pointless and/or greenwashing? No not at all. What it means is that your provider will buy the amount of energy you use from renewable sources. So if you use 3,000 kWh per year - they'll aim to buy 3,000 kWh per year capacity from renewable sources. It will often say on the providers website which sources they buy from - primarily wind, solar and hydroelectric from what I've seen. So although you aren't necessarily using the exact electricity that your provider has bought, you are adding renewable generation into the national grid.

Perfect then...

As with most things these days, it's not quite that simple. Ultimately, your provider has to fulfil your electricity needs so if their total demand is higher than the renewable supply then they are basically forced to buy it from wherever they can. So it's definitely better than a non-renewable tariff from a climate perspective but it's not a golden fix. Currently, in 2022 - there is very little price difference (if any) between non-renewable and renewable tariffs so if you need to switch - I'd definitely recommend looking into one. What's more - some of the big names offering these tariffs (e.g. Octopus Energy) are offering some innovative tariffs which incentivise off peak usage via discounts and they are definitely doing more than the traditional suppliers to reduce their overall climate impact.

So what are you waiting for?

In the grand scheme of things, this is a very simple action which does make a difference. At the time of writing (in 2022) - the price difference is minimal so it is a great time to make the change if you have previously had concerns about cost. What I would say though is reducing your consumption will likely have a bigger positive impact so I'd definitely recommend reading our other posts on this topic as well as changing your tariff.

If you have any thoughts, feedback or ideas you wish to contribute on this or any other topic covered by The Climate Coach - please get in touch, we'd love to hear from you.

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