Green energy is growing in popularity as people strive to do their bit for the environment. In a recent Uswitch survey, more than three quarters (76%) of consumers said renewable energy is important to them when choosing a new energy deal.
Many suppliers now offer affordable tariffs that are labelled as green — but what this actually means can vary between suppliers and energy plans. The differences include how suppliers buy renewable electricity and carbon offset the gas, while some may go even further in promoting a greener future.
Choosing a green tariff that is right for you can be confusing, so our Green Accreditation is here to help cut through the jargon and explain what makes an energy tariff green.
Just look out for the Bronze, Silver and Gold badges in your energy comparison results, and you can see more details by clicking on 'plan info' on your chosen tariff.
The Uswitch Green Accreditation aims to make it easier to choose the green energy tariff that’s right for you.
We asked energy suppliers to tell us about their available green energy tariffs. Our panel of independent experts then reviewed the tariffs and placed them into categories to reflect the differences between them.
The Uswitch Green Accreditation assigns each green tariff a Bronze, Silver or Gold level, depending on the amount of renewable energy suppliers directly buy and the level of investment they are making to support the growth of renewable energy.
You can find out which level each tariff has received when you compare energy tariffs with Uswitch.
To meet Bronze Standard Green Accreditation, tariffs must include the following:
Electricity that is matched with renewable generation certificates (REGOs)
Suppliers buy these certificates to show that renewable energy has been generated and placed onto the energy grid, although this renewable energy is not assigned to the tariff. Any energy plan that is labelled as green must meet this requirement as a minimum.
Renewable Energy Guarantees of Origin (REGOs) are certificates that show energy has been generated from renewable sources. The energy regulator Ofgem issues a REGO certificate to generators for every one megawatt hour (MWh) of renewable electricity produced. Suppliers can then purchase these certificates to match the units of energy used by their customers, to ensure renewable energy has been generated and placed onto the energy grid.
To reach Silver Standard Green Accreditation, tariffs must include the following:
At least 42.9% of electricity bought from renewable generators under power purchase agreements (PPAs)*
At least a third of electricity bought via PPAs if they include some green gas (biomethane) or the gas is carbon offset to a world-class quality standard
All Silver Standard Green tariffs have to meet Bronze Standard to be considered.
Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) are contracts between electricity generators and energy suppliers in which the supplier agrees to buy renewable energy on a long-term basis. This commitment gives renewable energy generators a steady income that allows them to make further investments into producing green energy.
Green gas, or biomethane, is a more environmentally friendly alternative to natural gas and does not produce carbon. At present, there is still not enough biomethane generated to meet all our needs so suppliers still have to use natural gas for their tariffs and offset the carbon emitted to reach the Silver Standard Green accreditation.
To reach Gold Standard Green Accreditation, tariffs must include the following:
100% of electricity bought from renewable generators under PPAs and at least 10% of green gas, with all emissions from gas being offset.
Provide a meaningful contribution towards increasing and/or promoting renewable energy.
The independent panel has reviewed these tariffs and handpicked the ones that can truly be called market leading in their environmental credentials.
All Gold Standard Green tariffs have to meet the Silver Standard to be considered.
Our independent expert panel has accredited all current tariffs from Good Energy as Gold Standard for 2021
British Gas' new Green Future May 2023v2 tariff has achieved Gold status in Uswitch's 2021 Green Accreditation
Here's why our panel decided these tariffs should achieve Gold Standard Green Accreditation:
Good Energy has made the following commitments to renewable energy:
Surplus renewable energy put back on the grid - this means Good energy customers not only get renewable electricity but they also contribute to more renewable electricity being available to others.
Providing support to help build more renewable generation. Whether it is helping generators set a fair price for their energy or setting up bonds that contribute directly towards building generation.
British Gas has made the following commitments to renewable energy:
Becoming a net zero business by 2045 and have an electrified fleet by 2025. British Gas also has further goals in investment in local communities and diverse hiring.
Helping customers become net zero by 2050 through customer climate goal delivery framework that looks to change customer behaviour in power (efficiency and cleaner energy), heat (insulation and low carbon solutions) and mobility (EV enablement).
Pioneering local energy: In 2020, British Gas completed a world-first three-year local energy market trial in Cornwall to prove the ability to trade renewable energy flexibly.
Our independent panel of experts has reviewed the green energy market so you don't have to. The panel has verified the criteria that the tariffs are being assessed against, and in particular is seeking to recognise standout examples of best practice from suppliers. The panel will review the criteria annually, to ensure it reflects current market conditions, making sure you can always trust you are choosing a tariff that reflects best practice at the time.
Maxine Frerk is an associate at Sustainability First and is the founding director of Grid Edge Policy and Visiting Fellow at Oxford Martin School Integrating Renewables Programme. Maxine has a wide range of regulatory experience, including previous roles as senior partner at Ofgem and head of regulation at BT.
Dr Hannon is a senior lecturer at the Hunter Centre for Entrepreneurship at the University of Strathclyde’s Business School and a member of Scottish Power Energy Networks’ Customer Engagement Group. He is also an elected council member of the British Institute for Energy Economics, chair and trustee of environmental and energy charity South Seeds, and an honorary member of the Green Angel Syndicate.
Dr Hardy is currently a senior research fellow at the Grantham Institute at Imperial College London, as well as non-executive director, Public Power Solutions and deputy chair of UK Power Networks Customer Engagement Group. Dr Hardy was previously head of Sustainable Energy Futures at Ofgem.
Richard is head of regulation at Uswitch. His expertise in consumer and market regulation with Uswitch is unrivalled, having extensive experience in the communications industry, including previously working for the sector’s regulator.
Chris is trustee of Severn Wye Energy Agency and was previously head of regulation at Bristol Energy and policy and regulatory affairs director at Good Energy. Chris has over 25 years of experience in energy, with particular focus on energy regulation, decentralised generation and renewable energy.
*The proportion used is 42.9%, as per renewable generation mix for 2020. Directly purchased via Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs).