Looking to switch to a green energy plan but not sure where to start? Find out more about how green plans work and how to choose the best one for you in our guide.
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The growth of green energy
While renewable energy has been a hot topic for a number of years, it's only in 2019 that green energy sources have caught up with fossil fuels. The National Grid has estimated that this year, more electricity in the UK will come from renewable sources than from gas and coal — for the first time since the industrial revolution.
An October 2019 report by the International Energy Agency predicted that global supplies of renewable electricity could expand by 50% in the next five years, driven by growth in solar energy.
With green energy becoming mainstream and the cost of renewable energy production falling, more utilities companies are offering tariffs that supply energy from renewable sources.
What is a green energy tariff?
The majority of plans that are labelled as green tariffs promise at least 100% of the electricity sourced from renewable energy. However, some green tariffs provide much more, such as 10% of your gas from renewable energy sources. Some may also offer carbon offsetting and more.
These green energy plans used to come at a premium; but these days, green plans from small, independent suppliers are often the cheapest energy deals on the market.
How do I find the best green energy plan?
Many green energy tariffs are provided by new and often small suppliers. It’s unlikely you will have heard of all of them or that you will know enough about them to get a sense of whether or not the service is good.
uSwitch’s energy comparison shows the green energy tariffs available in your area and lists each supplier's customer rating. If you want to know more about any particular supplier then take a look at our guide on gas and electricity suppliers.
Where does green energy come from?
There are many types of renewable energy sources used to power green energy tariffs. You're more likely to get your electricity powered by green energy, but advances in technology mean that your home can get some of its gas from renewable sources, depending on your green energy provider.
Plans with green electricity are often derived from solar, wind or hydro energy. Green gas is usually sourced from biomethane.
Below is a list of some of the most common types of renewable energy sources powering green energy tariffs in the UK:
Renewable energy sources
Relying on the nuclear fusion power from the sun's core, this type of renewable energy is usually collected via solar panels installed in view of direct sunlight. However, it is not the most efficient method of providing power on a large scale and so is rarely used by energy companies. It is, however, often the most popular renewable energy source for people looking to power their homes themselves.
Wind energy, most commonly derived from wind turbines, can be used to pump water or generate electricity. Wind power is most likely to be used by green energy providers. In fact, it is the most popular renewable source in the UK.
Also called hydropower, hydroelectric energy is being used more frequently as a renewable energy source for a few reasons: the cost of it is relatively low; hydro stations do not consume water; and the amount produced can be adapted to energy demands, reducing costs in the process. Hydroelectricity is conventionally produced from the water in a dam driving a water turbine and generator. This method is not strictly renewable as reservoirs naturally get filled and would need to be dug up to become useful again. In some cases it is produced from 'run-of-the-river' stations, which are built near a lake or existing reservoir, utilising the water coming upstream in that moment.
Also known as green gas, biomethane is produced from organic waste. This waste comes from the natural breakdown of food waste, household waste, agricultural waste and green waste. The energy can be distributed to the gas supply, which is why it is used to generate green power with some tariffs. It can even be used to fuel cars.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of a green energy plan?
One of the biggest advantages to renewable energy is that it is sustainable. One of the biggest reasons for energy price rises, according to energy companies, is the rising cost of fuel on the wholesale market.
If your green energy supplier's power sources will never run out, then in theory, they will have little reason to hike the price of your energy bill.
Having said that, historically one of the major drawbacks of renewable energy is that it often costs more to produce the same amount of energy that you can get from fossil fuels. However, new technology and advancements are changing that, so you can now find some affordable green energy deals with up and coming suppliers.
However, cost to produce is the reason more established energy companies still get most of their energy from fossil fuels.
Some renewable energy tariffs can be the cheapest on the market so it’s always a good idea to run an energy comparison and compare what’s available.
If you want to find out what your current energy supplier's fuel mix is, check out our guide.
Cheap green energy plans from uSwitch
Here are some of the current cheapest green plans you can switch to with uSwitch. Click "Compare now" to see how your current deal stacks up to the plans below.
|npower Select uSwitch Exclusive v28 Smart||£887||Compare now|
|Fix Online Exclusive v18||£888||Compare now|
|Super Saver November 2020 B11||£890||Compare now|
|Energy Plus Protection Dec 2020v2||£893||Compare now|
|So Yak - Green||£930||Compare now|
|uSwitch Octopus 12M Fixed||£937||Compare now|
|Brighter Future 12 Digital v3||£938||Compare now|
|Go Green (1 Year) v23||£981||Compare now|
|npower Select uSwitch Exclusive v28||£985||Compare now|
|Fix Online v32||£989||Compare now|
Based on average bill sizes for a medium energy user on a dual fuel plan paying by monthly direct debit, and averaged across all regions. This information is updated hourly with energy plans which are available to switch to through uSwitch. To appear in this table, plans must be available in at least 7 of the 14 regions.