Switch Off Fossil Fuels..Now.
"..The biggest energy challenge in our life time..Urgent and massve investment is needed.. to undertake the biggest reform of the fundamental energy system this country has ever seen..”
Charles Hendry, UK Energy Minister, BBC interview August 2010
Want to understand your energy ?
Where does UK's electricity come from?
Ultimately, electricity suppliers want to fulfil their customers' demands, so if there are more people demanding green (low-carbon) energy the suppliers will buy more low-carbon energy from the green generators, and more green generation will come on stream. Bit by bit, the mix will shift towards being kinder to our environment - if the mix shifts a little quicker, some of the environment may be saved..Act. Now.
Just 5% of UK's electricity (2010, from 4% in 2007) comes from renewable (not fossil-fuels),'clean' sources - and that must continue to grow over the coming years
At present, more than 80% of the UK's electricity comes from burning coal, oil and gas, in the central generating stations..these are the "dirty" fossil fuels which produce the carbon emissions which are known to be a major contributor to climate change...the government was tasked to increase that per centage of electricity generated by using renewable fuels to meet a target of 15% by 2015 under its commitments to the Kyoto Agreement .. a target which has now been changed to 20% by 2020
What is "clean", "green", "renewable" electricity ?
..it's the power to make a difference
Electricity generation is the number one source of greenhouse gas emissions - that's because the generating stations use fossil-fuels..
Electricity that is "clean" and "green" is generated by natural fuel sources, which is renewable, ie. can be replaced, unlike fossil fuels, the supply of which is finite
This "renewable fuel" is provided by installations which include solar photovoltaic (pv) panels, wind turbines, hydro, biomass and anaerobic digestion (AD)
Some 65% of UK's electricity is generated by burning coal and gas in power stations, emitting millions of tonnes every year of carbon dioxide, the main gas responsible for climate change.
If the global energy requirement were to be supplied from from renewable fuels only, then the CO2 emissions resonsible for causing global warming would be cut back drastically - green power can make all the difference
Where does green electricity come from ?
From a wide range of types and sizes of installations, from Home Generators to offshore wind farms, which are increasing rapidly as the renewables industry continues to grow and take shape. Eventually, the generation of electricity from fossil-fuels will be a memory of the past.
How much green electricity do suppliers offer in their supply mix ?
Sadly,very little electricity generated from non-fossil fuel sources is offered by the big supply companies. Some include less than 1% in the mix. See the government's
Fuel Mix figures for how much the 21 UK electricity suppliers include in their offer and for details of your current supplier's Mix
Does green electricity cost more ?
The company that supplies 100% green electricity is holding its prices, until end-2012. Because the suppliers of black, ie fossil-fuel generated electricity, have increased their prices recently by more than 15%, organic (ie homegrown !) green electricity is now cheaper..the supplier does not have to pay the ever-increasing price of fuel (mostly gas) coming from the international marketplace.
Check Current pricelist of green electricity, by region against your present supplier's bill. Compare the daily standing charge..a low daily standing charge means that you can lower your bill by lowering consumption of units..turn everything off !
Green electricity suppliers - the Big One
That binding obligationto get to 20% by 2020 means that electricity suppliers that provide users, the public, are required to source and supply an increasing proportion of renewable electricity
There are more than 20 companies in UK operating as suppliers of electricity, including the six biggest operators, the Big Six, or, the Black Six as they are called by some commentators because of the electricity they supply only a fraction has been generated from renewable sources.
The biggest six suppliers, in customer numbers, referred to as the "Black Six" by some commentators looking to make the point, provide over 99% of UK's supply to households
...all except one of these suppliers claim that they are meeting their obligations to support 'green generation by their offering of 'green' electricity tariffs and 'green' funds to their customers, rather than buying from a greensource.
But, unfortunately, the electricity they supply is still "dirty" - generated from the brown (gas and oil) and black (coal), carbon-emitting fuels that make up 80% of the electricity generated by UK's central-generating stations
The green funds and green tariffs they offer to consumer are said to be green because a carbon-offset programme, such as the planting of trees, is operated and supported by the funds, as a "contribution" to the reduction of UK's CO2 emissions
Only one UK electricity supply company is providing the consumer with truly 'green' clean electricity, as shown in the Fuel Mix Disclosure stats..ie. electricity generated 100%, only, by renewable fuel installations such as solar photovoltaic (pv), biomass, hydro, and wind..
That company is Good Energy...
..there may be more 100% green electricity suppliers in coming years, because the rate at which new green installations are built and come on line should now begin to increase, in part because of the government's support subsidy, the Feed-In Tariff, (FIT), and because of an increase in understanding of the catastrophic impact of the coming climate change..
But, at present, Good Energy is the only true green option..
..if every UK electricity consumer were to decide to change supplier and switch to Good Energy, the coal, gas and oil generating plants would soon be ready for phasing out and eventually would be in complete close-down from lack of customers..and that would significantly reduce UK's carbon emissions
As with organic food, 'organic' green electricity can cost the consumer a little more - although the actual additional cost to the average UK household, consuming the annual average of 3,400 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity, has been only some £50 annually....£1 a week..
However, as of the 2011 price increases by the Black Six (because they have to pass on the cost of the increases in world gas prices) green, organic, homegrown electricity is now cheaper than the "energy supermarket" prices of the Black Six electricity suppplied from the central generating stations..
What are 'green' supply tariffs and 'green' funds ?
The Black Six offer the consumer a choice of "Green Tariffs", but not green electricity..
The government-backed Energy Savings Trust begins its explanation of 'green' tariffs and funds with the following message:
Please note: there is no independent accreditation of any green tariffs and as a result the Energy Saving Trust cannot recommend any supplier. You may find the Consumer focus website useful as it offers a guide to the green tariffs available
Green supply tariffs
" A green supply tariff means that some or all of the electricity you buy is 'matched' by purchases of renewable energy that your energy supplier makes on your behalf. These could come from a variety of renewable energy sources such as a wind farm or hydroelectric power station. Your supplier should let you know what sources are included in the mix, and also what proportion of your supply is renewable.
A green fund usually involves paying a premium to contribute to a fund that will be used to support new renewable energy developments. The cost of generating electricity from renewable energy sources can be slightly higher. Under this option, the existing electricity supply continues as normal, but your involvement will help to alter the mix of energy sources in future toward renewable sources"
“There are many green offerings on the market”, the Energy Savings Trust goes on to say, “and some questions you might like to consider before choosing a green offering are”:
- Will it cost any more than your current tariff?
- Is it a green supply tariff, a green fund, or another type of offering?
- If relevant, what proportion of your green supply tariff is from renewable sources?
- What information is available from the supplier about green tariffs and green funds?
- Is there an independent body that verifies the supplier's green offerings?
localGen is a Generation Partner of Good Energy
The Fossil-Fuel Stranglehold
Some 75% of UK's electricity is generated by burning coal and gas in power generating stations. With a third of those central power stations in process of shutdown because they are are too "dirty" and no longer fit for purpose, an energy gap in sufficient supply to meet demand is looming ..if more renewably generated electricity comes on stream that gap might be bridged (the rest of the gap can be bridged if we reduce our consumption and stop the extent of energy wasted)
UK electricity is provided to the consumer through 21 licensed suppliers, of which six are the so-called Big Six, also referred to as the Black Six. They are EDF, E.ON, Centrica, SSE, Scottish Power and npower, which own 65% of the power stations and control 99% of our domestic energy market , effectively an overall stranglehold control
The government requires all suppliers to disclose their Fuel Mix every year, figures that provide details of the extent to which the suppliers are sourcing fossil-fuel "black" electricity to sell on to consumers. Consumers are familiar with food labeling giving them information on ingredients, nutrition and calories. Now it is mandatory for all electricity suppliers to label their products with the fuels used to generate the electricity, the carbon emissions and the nuclear waste produced.
Their Fuel Mix figures show that each of the Black Six are currently supplying electricity of which less than 10% is sourced from renewable generation and that much of that is actually black electricity washed by a green offset" ie. from providing funding for environmental projects to win the offsettable credit. Trouble is, that funding is provided by consumers paying a higher price for the Big Six's so-called "Green Tariff" supply.
Effectively, the Black Six uses consumers' money to avoid having to pay the penalties/fines imposed on them as suppliers for using fossil-fuel black electricity !
The renewables industry continues to grow and take shape and the supply of renewable electriciy is beginning to increase. Unfortunately, there continue to be obstacles preventing the growth at the speed needed, as the Ecologist magazine, May 2012,points out " At worst they may not only be overcharging customers but also holding back a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make the transition to renewable energy".
Professor Catherine Mitchell of Exeter University, endorsing that view, says "Consumer interests are at the bottom of the pile". Campaigners say "The reason for spiralling bills is largely because of the Big Six’s over-reliance on ever-more costly fossil fuels..and not only are they stifling smaller companies – especially those offering 100% renewable energy – by monopolising the market, they are failing to invest in clean, affordable energy"
Consumer complaints about the Black Six rose 26% cent in 2011 and politicians from all parties together with Ofgem, the electricity industry's watchdog, have questioned their power
While fossil-fuel supporters argue that rising bills are due to ‘green taxes’, such as subsidies for renewable energy, a recent report from the Climate Change Committee (CCC), an independent thinktank, has found that the major cause is in fact the rising wholesale price of gas
Germany, by contrast, has become a world leader in renewable energy and the country gets about 20% of its overall annual electricity from those sources.
It has nearly as much installed solar power generation capacity as the rest of the world combined and gets about 4% of its overall annual electricity needs from the sun alone. It aims to close down and eventually shut all of the country's nuclear reactors, the other alternative source to fossil-fuels
UK government says it wants to see 2m homes with solar pv installations, an increase of 10 times the present amount of roof top pv, in the next three years. As more people opt to buy green energy, the supply of clean renewable energy available on the National Grid will increase as the demand for fossil fuel electricity diminishes
Meanwhile, the fossil-fuel power stations continue to emit millions of tonnes every year of carbon dioxide (CO2), the main emitted gas responsible for the acceleration of the impacts of climate change. If the global energy requirement were to be supplied from renewable fuels only, then the CO2 emissions responsible for causing global warming would be cut back drastically - green power can make all the difference to a nation's carbon footprint
The UK government was tasked under its commitments to the Kyoto Agreement 1997 to increase the per centage of electricity generated by using renewable fuels to meet a target to reduce CO2 emissions by 15% by 2015 .. a target which has now been changed to 20% by 2020. (Germany is on track to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2020)
At present, 2012, the target looks unlikely to be met as only 7% (from 4% in 2007) of UK's utilities' average fuel mix is from a renewable clean source
Ultimately, electricity suppliers need, as any business does, to fulfill their customers' demands, so if more people demand green (low-carbon) energy the suppliers will be nudged to buy more low-carbon energy from the green generators, and more green generation will be available to supply to consumers
Renewables also have a further advantage..If generation of electricity is decentralised, away from central power stations, and provided at or close to the point of consumption, that will stop the 60% wastage of electricity from generation and then distribution through the National Grid's power lines from the central power stations to the far-distant consumer. Renewable electricity installations, such as rooftop solar pv panels, can operate right at the point of consumption and larger locally-based renewable generating installations, wind turbines for example, can operate close by
Electricity generation is the number one source of greenhouse gas emissions but, eventually, the generation of electricity from fossil-fuels will be a memory of the past..we just need that "Eventually" to happen faster !