Over the last few years, consumers’ attitudes and behaviours have changed, and many of us have become more conscious of the impact our carbon footprint makes on the world.
One thing we can all do to reduce the impact of our carbon footprint is to choose renewable energy from suppliers who advocate renewable electricity and gas resources.
However, while many suppliers are now offering 100% renewable electricity that comes from the power of the wind, sun and sea. Many consumers are less aware of how they generate green gas and what being carbon neutral actually means.
Renewable gas is 100% comparable and interchangeable with conventional natural gas. Renewable gas (or RNG) is essentially biogas which is the gaseous product of decomposition of organic matter. Traditionally, natural gas comes from an underground pipeline and generally is associated with the production of petroleum.
By contrast, renewable gas comes from organic waste materials that we use every day. Waste products such as food, garden and lawn clippings or animal and plant-based materials. It is also possible to create renewable gas from degradable carbon sources such as wood, card and paper products. Because all of these materials are natural resources we can find in abundance worldwide, it is possible to produce substantial amounts of biogas every day.
Natural gas that fuels our homes comes from methane. Methane is produced through the decomposing process of organic matter.
Aside from extracting it from underground, renewable gas or biogas is produced through existing waste systems and a range of sustainable and renewable sources. These include animal waste, crop residuals after harvesting and food waste from residential homes.
In addition, any food waste from farms can be of use in the production of biogas. One of the most common biogas resources is the naturally occurring biological breakdown of organic waste from facilities such as landfills and wastewater treatment plants.
Carbon offset refers to how companies such as energy suppliers neutralise their carbon emissions.
Essentially it involves the measurement of carbon output from one activity and removes or prevents the release of carbon from another process.
For example, an energy supplier offering carbon offset gas will look at how much gas you use in kWh. The average household burns around 12,500 kWh of gas each year. In turn, this releases 2.3 tons of CO2.
To offset this usage, an energy supplier will be taking part in projects which offset or neutralise this gas use. An excellent example is tree planting projects. A young tree can absorb around 6kg of CO2 every year. A mature tree over ten years old can absorb over 22kgs. By planting more trees and protecting forests from deforestation and destruction, there is enormous potential to store carbon through these projects.
Why don’t many suppliers offer renewable or carbon offset gas?
While renewable electricity has become commonplace with many energy suppliers, green or carbon offset gas is less common. If you want 100% carbon offset green gas, you’ll have to look to one of the smaller green suppliers. Some of the UK’s larger suppliers, including the big six, have set goals to be carbon neutral by 2050. More prominent suppliers have green tariffs because they either own or have partnerships with renewable green and brown fossil fuel generators. In most cases, their standard tariffs will provide a mixture of both types of energy.
It’s important to remember that when you choose a green energy tariff, it doesn’t mean your gas supply is made up of 100% carbon offset gas. All energy sources, whether renewable or brown gas fossil fuels are a mix of both when it reaches your home from the national grid. This means that when the gas enters your home, it will always be a mixture of renewable and fossil fuels regardless of the tariff you choose.
When you opt for a green energy supplier, you are supporting green energy generators. This will mean the energy mix reaching the national grid is greener as a result. Suppliers do this in a number of ways:
- Building their own generators to generate power.
- Purchase of green gas from independent resources with “Power Purchase Agreements” PPAs) or buy green energy certificates that go towards supporting green energy generation.
Generally speaking, yes. But the difference can be minuscule in the grand scheme of things. If you are on a long-standing tariff with a supplier that uses a fossil fuel energy mix, you could be paying significantly more than the average 100% green tariff. If price is a concern, opting for a fixed rate tariff will offer you the security that your bill will not suddenly go up in price.
Another option to offset your energy cost is to install your own renewable energy source at home, such as a solar panel. You can then use that energy within your home.
In addition, you can sell back any excess energy you produce to the national grid.
There are several energy suppliers that offer green renewable gas tariffs.
Here’s a quick summary of each of them:
Green Energy UK offers 100% green gas as standard on all tariffs. All of the energy they generate comes from sustainable sources. The energy they generate is 100% green, so they have no need to reduce their carbon footprint through other projects and activities. This means all of the gas they transfer to the national grid is green. As an energy supplier, they generate zero grams of radioactive waste.
OVO Beyond is OVO’s green upgrade tariff. This tariff offers 100% carbon-offset energy. 100% of the electricity they generate is from renewable resources. Their carbon-neutral gas includes 15% green gas. They reach the remaining 85% by supporting various carbon reduction projects, including tree planting here in the UK and Uganda and rainforest preserving projects.
Bulb is the UK’s largest green energy supplier. Like many others, 100% of their electricity comes from renewable resources. In addition, 10% of the gas they supply is green, meaning it comes from renewable processes, including crop and farm waste. The rest is carbon offset through tree planting and other projects that protect the forests making the gas they supply is 100% carbon neutral.
10% of gas from good energy comes from biogas generation processes such as farm waste. The rest is carbon offset through various carbon-reducing schemes. Good Energy has a partnership with ClimateCare to offset all the carbon released when their customers use their gas at home. This is the same regardless of which Good Energy tariff you are on.
Currently, 1% of Ecotricity’s gas supply is green and generated from their gas mills. They are on a mission to increase this, though. Like many other suppliers, the rest is carbon offset through various schemes around the world. However, they openly acknowledge that this isn’t ideal and is an interim solution as they ramp up the production of green gas.
Not all suppliers are generating their own green gas yet. However, many others are taking steps to offset their gas use through a variety of activities.
Here is a short summary of which suppliers are taking steps in this area to offer a carbon-neutral gas supply.
Octopus Energy’s super green tariff offers 100% carbon offset gas and 100% renewable electricity. As a green supplier, Octopus cancels out 100% of the CO2 emissions they produce through their involvement in carbon offsetting projects around the world. Over the years, they have helped reforest and conserve huge forest areas in the Amazon. Today they work with a carbon offsetting partner, Renewable World, to bring renewable energy technology to fuel-poor regions of the globe. These projects work to remove CO2 from the atmosphere through various schemes.
Bristol Energy’s BE Super Green tariff offsets 100% of the gas they supply. That means that for every tonne of carbon emitted through their customers gas consumption, they purchase a carbon offset certificate from various emission reduction schemes. These schemes could include tree planting or other projects which support carbon reduction elsewhere. British Energy also offers additional tariffs such as BE Simply Green with a 50% gas carbon offset.
Pure Planet supplies gas that is 100% carbon offset through various projects. For example, they work on projects to protect the Peruvian Amazon rainforest.
E.on Next has added the E.on Next Climate+ tariff to their product range for those looking to make their gas usage more sustainable. Climate+ offers 100% carbon offset gas. This is done through supporting tree planting projects and purchasing carbon emission-reducing certificates to reach global sustainability goals.
British Gas Evolve ‘The Green One’ tariff offers 100% carbon neutral gas. In addition, British Gas promise to match 10% of the gas their customers use with green gas from generators across the UK. The remaining 90% is carbon offset through various carbon-cutting projects that British Gas supports around the world.
HUB Energy offers 100% carbon offset gas on all their tariffs. For every kWh of gas HUB customers use, they will invest in projects which reduce CO2 emissions, creating a net-zero result.
Another supplier offering completely carbon-neutral gas is Shell Energy on their “Go Further” tariff. In addition, they offset their carbon emissions by supporting community projects all over the world.
If you are looking to reduce your carbon footprint in 2021, choosing an energy supplier that either generates green gas or supports its production is a big step towards reducing CO2 emissions released into the atmosphere.