Over recent years, ‘green’ energy has become a popular topic and a hugely important part of the UK energy market.
With government money being invested, new green technologies are being developed all the time. Green energy products are in almost every market out there, and sustainable energy supplies are becoming more commonplace.
But, what is green energy, exactly?
Green energy, also called renewable or sustainable energy, is basically energy that has been produced in a sustainable and environmentally friendly manner. Energy has traditionally been produced by consuming fossil fuels; gas, coal and oil, which the world is quickly running out of.
Green energy is not only sustainable for the future, but also reduces the amount of pollution created and released into the atmosphere. The UK is aiming for energy independence in the future, meaning we will be able to produce all the energy we need ourselves. Relying less on fossil fuels and using more types of renewable energy will help Britain to achieve energy independence.
Green energy, at the moment, usually just refers to electricity. There are more technologies available for green electricity production than there are for gas, but more in green gas later.
There are a few different ways in which green electricity can be produced, including:
- Solar – Solar power is, arguably, one of the most common and well known types of green energy. It involves converting the sun’s heat into electricity through the use of solar panels. Solar panels are used throughout the world, on everything from domestic houses to light-up roadside signs.
- Wind – Wind power uses wind turbines to create electricity, much in the same way windmills work. Onshore and offshore wind farms are springing up everywhere, with the UK boasting many.
- Hydro – Hydro power is when the moving water is used to generate electricity. Hydro power, much like wind power has been used for centuries and is once again becoming a mainstream source of electricity.
- Biomass - Biomass energy involves converting organic material, such as plants wood and animal waste, into energy. This low carbon technology commonly sees the production of fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel.
- Geothermal – Geothermal energy is, basically, heat from the Earth. It provides another clean and sustainable way to generate electricity.
Whilst there are a wide range of green electricity technologies available, and more being developed all the time, the story is not the same when it comes to gas. But, this is all set to change in the future. Whilst green gas sources are not currently available on the energy market, these technologies are being developed.
For example, technologies are being developed where gas could be generated using food waste as fuel. Also, biomass energy can produce a fuel called biogas, which has a very small carbon footprint.
Although green gas is not currently produced in the UK, it is accessible as some energy suppliers will source it from other countries.
Green Energy for Domestic Consumers
Most major energy suppliers have green tariffs available to their customers. These tariffs may not use 100% green energy (it may be a majority percentage which is ‘topped up’ with ‘brown’ energy from fossil fuels) but they are most certainly more sustainable and environmentally friendly than regular, ‘brown’ energy tariffs. There are also quite a few completely green suppliers out there, who only provide energy from sustainable sources. Click here for more information about green energy suppliers.
Green Energy for Commercial Consumers
There are a number of ways that a business can benefit from a commerical green energy deal. Although a green energy tariff could cost a little more than the cheapest deals on the market, running a price comparison means you'll still be able to find the best rates available.
And if you take the time to write up an environmental policy, this can help to both strengthen the public image of your business and also offer you new marketing opportunities.
Green Energy Can be Profitable
Renewable energy can actually turn a profit for households who produce their own energy. Say, for example, your home has solar panels installed, and not only do you produce enough electricity for your consumption, but you produce some extra. You could actually sell that electricity back to your supplier. Or with a ‘Feed in Tariff’, you could make money for all the energy you produce yourself. For more information, see our page on Feed in Tariffs.
If you’d like to know more about solar panels, or for an installation quote, click here.
The Cost of Green Energy
Unfortunately, green energy, whilst no doubt the most sustainable and environmental of energies, is not always the cheapest. This is usually because green energy itself is more expensive to produce than unsustainable energy. A wind farm for example, takes up more physical space than a traditional power plant, whilst producing less electricity overall.
Many people feel that supporting a sustainable future and reducing their carbon footprint outweighs the cost of paying extra for their energy, although of course not everyone is of this opinion. Being eco-friendly does not have to break the bank, though. There are many tips and tricks that you can adopt to improve your energy efficiency, effectively slashing your bills.
Also, switching to a green supplier may not be any more expensive for you, if you are not on the most efficient tariff now. If you haven’t switched suppliers, or run an energy comparison recently, then you could be paying too much for your current energy supply, and might find that a green energy tariff is not too different in price. To run a price comparison, including green energy suppliers, click here.