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Green & Renewable Energy Guide for Businesses

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It’s never been more important to become more sustainable as a business. There are two main ways you can do this. You could either switch to a green energy tariff or get a renewable energy source installed onto your business’ grounds.

The best option for your company will depend on the nature of your business and your goals for eco-friendliness.

In this guide, we’ll provide you with more information on green energy tariffs and renewable energy sources to help you succeed in increasing your business’ green credentials.

What is renewable energy

Renewable energy comes from a source that cannot run out. These sources are sustainable and unlike fossil fuels, they do not emit greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. They are therefore deemed as better for the environment.

Installing a form of renewable energy onto your business can not only reduce your carbon emissions, but it could also increase your green credentials and boost your company’s reputation.

There are different types of renewable energy. Examples include:

Solar PV Panels

One of the UK’s most popular sources of renewable energy, these systems use sunlight to generate electricity. Solar panels are typically easy to install and they are relatively low maintenance.

Costs can average at around £5,000-£10,000 for small solar PV systems. It usually takes between 6-10 years for you to get a return on your investment. 

Biomass Systems

Biomass systems are designed to generate both electricity and heat through the burning or fermenting of organic material. Costs depend on the size of the boiler used, so it can be difficult to get a price estimate for these systems. However, an automatically fed biomass boiler can cost between £10,000-£19,000, installation costs included [1].

Wind Turbines

Another popular renewable technology in the UK. Wind turbines are used to generate electricity using power from the wind. These typically need to be placed in large, open areas. Microturbine installations usually cost approximately £10,000 (producing 2.5-6w), whilst larger turbine installations can be priced up to £3m. The payback time for this technology depends on the size of the turbine.

Solar Thermal

Solar thermal technology harnesses energy from the sun to heat water that is stored in a hot water tank. These systems are typically simple to install and they don’t tend to require a lot of maintenance.

Solar thermal systems can cost between £3,000-£5,000 to install. It usually takes around 5 years for them to return investment costs.

Anaerobic Digestion

This renewable process involves the breaking down of organic matter and the burning of biogas (containing methane) to produce heat and electricity.

What to consider before investing in renewable energy

Many businesses have taken the step to incorporate renewable energy into their business. If you’re considering this, here’s a few factors you’ll need to think about:

  • Your location and space – Some renewable sources are better suited to specific locations than others. You should consider whether your business has sufficient space for a renewable energy source. For example, wind turbines are most effective in places like coastal and rural areas, where space is ample and the wind is strong and reliable.
  • Planning permission – You’ll need to obtain planning permission before you install a renewable energy source onto your commercial property. You should also ensure that the installation will not affect any other buildings nearby. Additionally, bear in mind that installing a renewable source can require alterations to be made to your premises. 
  • Legal aspects – It’s essential for your renewable technologies to be government approved. Your selected installer should be registered with the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS). This helps to protect your investment and ensures that your renewable source is installed to the highest quality.
  • Costs – Installing a renewable energy source can have high initial costs. However, these costs are likely to be paid back in savings. You could also generate additional income through the government’s Feed-in-Tariff scheme (now Smart Export Guarantee).

These are just a few of the key factors you’ll need to consider if you choose to get a renewable energy source installed. If you’d prefer an eco-friendly option that requires less commitment, you could opt to get a green energy tariff for your business. 

What is a Green Energy Tariff?

A green energy tariff is a type of energy contract where your supplier matches the energy you buy with purchases of renewable energy. This energy is then fed into the National Grid. Thus, the more people that sign up to green energy contracts, the higher the percentage of renewable energy in the national supply. This is the main benefit of green energy tariffs, they promote a more sustainable generation of energy.

Who Are the Best Green Energy Suppliers in 2021?

Most of the suppliers in the Big Six offer green energy tariffs. However, there are also a number of smaller, independent providers that offer great green energy deals.

Here are some examples of green energy suppliers in the UK:

  1. Bulb Energy

Bulb is currently the UK’s largest green energy supplier. They offer 100% green energy to all their customers, whether business or domestic. Bulb’s gas supply is 100% carbon neutral. Their green gas is made up of 74% purpose grown crops, 18% food or farm waste and 8% environment residue.

Here’s a breakdown of their renewable electricity sources:

  • Wind – 78%
  • Solar Power – 18%
  • Hydro – 4%
  1. Octopus Energy

Octopus Energy is keenly committed to renewable energy and actively aims to help combat climate change. All of their electricity tariffs are 100% green and they provide carbon offsetting on their gas supply. This supplier is the UK’s biggest investor into solar farms. They have been deemed a Which? Recommended provider on multiple occasions.

  1. Ovo Energy

OVO Energy is a big contender amongst UK energy suppliers, especially after acquiring SSE in 2020. This supplier offers 100% renewable electricity as standard to all its customers. They also provide 100% carbon neutral gas, with 15% green gas and the remainder offset. OVO plant a tree in each customer’s name every year to help the environment.

Here’s a breakdown of OVO’s 15% green gas production:

  • Anaerobic digestion (49%)
  • Solar (32%)
  • Wind (18%)
  • Hydro (1%)
  1. Npower

Part of the UK’s Big Six suppliers, Npower is a popular name in the energy industry. 100% of Npower’s electricity is green; they generate this power from renewable sources such as wind turbines and hydroelectricity. This provider offers carbon offsetting and they are verified by sustainability specialists, EcoAct.

  1. Ecotricity

A passionate green energy supplier, Ecotricity is committed to bringing an end to fossil fuel energy generation. Recognised as ‘Britain’s greenest energy company,’ this supplier also has a range of electric vehicle charging points across the country; underlining their dedication to environmental sustainability. Ecotricity is the only energy company that is certified as vegan by the Vegan Society. They are also the founders of the Global Green Energy Movement.

Ecotricity may not be the cheapest green energy provider, but the added costs go into their efforts to preserve the environment. 20% of their green energy is generated from their own renewable sources, the rest is sourced from other green generators.

Here’s a breakdown of their fuel mix:

  • Wind (98%)
  • Solar (0.12%)
  • Hydro (0.7%)

What about other energy suppliers?

Other energy providers may offer both standard fuel and green energy tariffs. However, all of their energy won’t be renewable like the dedicated green energy suppliers mentioned above.

What are the main benefits of going green?

There are plenty of benefits of green energy tariffs and the renewable sources they promote. These include:

  1. Eco-friendliness

Renewable sources don’t emit carbon gases when they generate energy. This means that unlike fossil fuels, they don’t pollute the air. These reduced emissions help to preserve the environment and allow us to combat climate change more effectively.

  1. Renewable sources won’t run out

Fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas are all limited in supply. Meanwhile, as renewable technologies extract energy from sustainable sources like the sun, wind and water, there is no restriction on the energy that they can provide.

Due to the numerous benefits of renewable sources, the UK government has pledged to stop using coal to generate energy by 2025.

  1. Low maintenance

Fossil fuel energy generation can require a significant amount of work and maintenance. This is not the case with renewable energy. Technologies such as solar panels and wind turbines don’t have many moving parts (if any). They are therefore less prone to malfunctions.

Furthermore, as most renewable sources don’t use combustible or flammable fuel sources, they can be deemed as safer.

  1. Can help you save

As aforementioned, renewable technologies can have expensive purchase and installation costs. However, the savings they provide tend to outweigh these initial costs and further savings can be made through the government’s Feed-in-Tariff scheme.

If you’d prefer not to make such a long-term investment, you could still go green by switching suppliers and getting a green energy tariff.

  1. Increased reputation

Whether you decide to invest in a renewable source, select a green energy tariff or simply make more efforts to improve your business’ energy-efficiency, going green will have a positive impact on your company.

Doing your bit for the environment will boost your green credentials and improve your reputation amongst customers and potential partners. Studies have shown that a third of customers prefer to make purchases from sustainable brands, and this figure is likely to rise in the future. 

FAQs

  • What is carbon neutrality?

    When a company balances their carbon emissions with efforts to eliminate carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, they are said to be carbon neutral. Carbon neutrality works in a different way to renewable energy. Companies can buy credits from schemes and organisations that actively work to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. For example, deforestation projects.

  • What if you want to reduce your carbon footprint without large upfront costs?

    The best way to make your business more eco-friendly without large upfront costs is to switch to a green energy tariff. This way, all the energy you use is matched with purchases of renewable energy. You can take a look at suppliers’ fuel mix to find out where their energy comes from. Here at Business Energy, we can help you find a suitable green energy tariff, simply try our free comparison tool today. 

  • How to switch to a green energy supplier

    If you’d like to switch to a green energy tariff, we can provide you with all the help and advice you need. Here at Business Energy, we specialise in helping companies like yours find the best energy deal for your needs. Simply try our free comparison tool today to find out how much you could save.

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Percentage energy savings quoted are against customers who let their last contract renew automatically.

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