Green Tariffs Axed

With 5 of the ‘Big Six’ energy companies dropping their green tariffs, is this a blow to green energy in the UK?

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On the face of it it sounds like the big bad energy companies up to their usual dirty work of shunning the environment and, according to the Guardian, it’s a move “which green campaigners fear could undermine the national drive to tackle climate change”.

However, concern seems largely based on the fact that consumers will have less choice and that those consumers currently on Big Six green tariffs will be left stranded with a brown supplier.

Neither of these is particularly problematic.

Firstly, there are still a range of dedicated green suppliers – such as Good Energy and Green Energy UK – who are hungry for new eco-minded customers. Others, including Ecotricity, have business models which are genuinely committed to expanding the UK’s generation portfolio of renewable assets.

Secondly, it’s never been easier to change your energy supplier, so the announcement from 5 of the ‘Big Six’ could begin a sizeable migration of those eco-minded customers felt let down by the brown providers. This should mean that their recent growth will continue.  

In fact the axing of the green tariffs, which is incidentally due to reforms which limit the number of tariffs suppliers are allowed to offer, might even be a good thing. After all, consumer confusion between the different tariffs has been a big problem so making the green suppliers the undisputed champions of green energy may help them grow more rapidly than before.

Of course the Big Six have market influence that far surpasses the green suppliers so in this sense the announcement is, as Good Energy commented, “a disappointment”.

But it is perhaps not as bad as it sounds.

At the end of the day the UK’s decarbonisaition will not be determined by the offer of green tariffs.

It will come from bold Government leadership, possibly including some form of market deliberalisation, so that the construction of much more energy storage, a CCS network and large-scale renewable generation – all of which are needed for a zero carbon future – becomes a reality.

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