Homes across the UK will soon be able to use wind and solar energy generated from community projects from anywhere in the country.
The development comes as rising numbers of customers become ‘eco-conscious’, pushing energy suppliers to ‘greenwash’ the market and prove their sustainability credentials.
The first ever energy tariff offering clean electricity solely from community projects will be offered by Co-Op Energy, with the supplier charging £5 more per month than their regular tariff.
The deal will provide gas with a carbon offset included in the price, as well as electricity from community energy projects.
Co-Op Energy will work directly with 90 local renewable energy generation projects across the country in order to source clean power for its new tariff. This includes the Westmill solar and wind farms in Oxfordshire.
The company, which has been operated by Octopus Energy since last year, intends to invest its profits in building new community projects, as well as maintaining existing ones.
Chief executive of Midcounties Co-operative, Phil Ponsonby, says that the tariff is the only one on the UK market that is powered by 100% community-generated electricity, adding that it would ensure that community generators are paid a fair price too.
Ponsonby said that customers on the tariff will be able to monitor the source of their electricity, and “see exactly where it is being generated at small scale sites across the UK”.
He added that the wind and solar projects that generate power for the new tariff “plough the profits they make back into their neighbourhoods or into helping other similar projects get off the ground”.
Many energy tariffs that are marketed as being 100% renewable are not as green as suppliers would lead customers to believe.
Consumer watchdog Which? discovered that many energy suppliers offering renewable energy tariffs did not generate renewable energy or buy any renewable electricity either.
Instead, these ‘pale green’ suppliers take advantage of a technical loophole allowing them to buy cheap renewable energy certificates without having actually bought renewable energy. The certificates are issued by Ofgem to renewable energy developers, but these can then be sold-on separately from the electricity at a knock-down price.
Which? warns that these suppliers are greenwashing their energy tariffs in order to potentially mislead customers.
Chief executive of Octopus Energy, Greg Jackson, said that it is ‘a massive jump in the right direction’ for customers to be able to purchase locally-generated green energy.
“Investing in more local energy infrastructure and getting Britain’s homes run by the sun when it’s shining and the wind when it’s blowing can end our reliance on dirty fossil fuels sooner than we hoped,” Jackson said.
“Local people investing in local people means that we can all muck in and put the work in to decarbonise where governments and large companies are slow to”.
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