'Green energy is surprisingly unpopular' blog discussion

edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in Martin's Blogs & Appearances & MoneySavingExpert in the News
12 replies 2.7K views
This is the discussion to link on the back of Martin's blog. Please read the blog first, as this discussion follows it.

Please click 'post reply' to discuss below.


  • callum9999callum9999 Forumite
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    I'm surprised that you're surprised.

    While many people claim to the contrary, the vast majority are much more concerned about how much money they have in their pocket than whether they're destroying the planet for future generations or not. With the few that do care often justifying not doing anything to stop it with "but I'm only 1 person, it won't make a difference".
  • EctophileEctophile Forumite
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    Will signing up for a green tariff actually mean that more green energy is generated?

    It makes no difference if you pay a premium for green electricity, if it just means that everybody else gets a little less.

    In reality, all the electricity is going into the National Grid, and you're just paying for the bit you use. Whatever tariff you're on, you end up with the same electricity.
    If it sticks, force it.
    If it breaks, well it wasn't working right anyway.
  • The one you've picked isn't what I'd call a pure Green tariff as 3% of their electricity comes from coal and 2% from natural gas and there is no comment on how they are moving towards green production for gas or their policy on fracking. Despite their other projects (I've never been convinced that planting trees works) I'd rather go for either Ecotricity or Green Energy who only use renewal sources for their supply even if they cost a bit more.

    So for people who want to go Green on ethical grounds I suspect you've just not picked the right tariff and it would be good to have the other options on the "green" tab when you do a comparison.
  • jamesdjamesd Forumite
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    The switch is about saving money. It's natural that those interested in it should be more interested in saving money than being scammed into buying energy that is not really provided to them from green sources*, or energy that is generated from environmentally harmful sources like onshore wind generation.

    *it's a scam. Some amount of "green" stuff is put into the system somewhere but what people actually get will be whatever is closes to them, which could be the most polluting power plant in the country. Meanwhile the people who are close to the green sources will be the ones really getting the green supplies, even if they aren't on a green plan. This is an inevitable consequence of the way the supply grids and energy sources work. A consumer who really wants to get green power should do it from their own sources, like solar electricity and heat, that realy wil be supplied to them from those green sources.
  • MoneyerMoneyer Forumite
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    If I want to fund projects to save the Amazon, I'll donate to an appropriate charity in a tax-efficient way. Paying for this via your energy bill is spectacularly inefficient, as you're not only donating from net income but also paying VAT.

    If I choose a green tariff, it is because I want to buy green energy, and for no other reason. Of course there are problems with that as well: my own solution is to go with the cheapest energy tariff and put the money saved towards energy efficiency measures and solar PV at home….
  • MoneyerMoneyer Forumite
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    jamesd wrote: »
    *it's a scam. Some amount of "green" stuff is put into the system somewhere but what people actually get will be whatever is closes to them, which could be the most polluting power plant in the country.

    I take your point, but electricity in the grid is "fungible": energy goes in, energy comes out, but it doesn't really make scientific sense to talk about which energy comes out where.

    For me, the question is whether the fact you choose a green tariff increases the green electricity supplied to the grid. With many suppliers it doesn't, and I agree this is a scam. But others (notably Ecotricity) have their own renewable generation and put profits into building more renewable capacity: that might or might not be worth switching to but it certainly isn't a scam…..
  • tgroom57tgroom57 Forumite
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    Green energy has always been unpopular - look at nuclear.
  • Norman_CastleNorman_Castle Forumite
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    Given the choice I would like all my energy to be green but I won't pay extra for it. As above, surely any green energy will be used by the national grid. It wont be discarded if unsold as green energy.
    I'm not a cat.
  • spikyonespikyone Forumite
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    tgroom57 wrote: »
    Green energy has always been unpopular - look at nuclear.

    Nuclear's lack of popularity is probably more down to events like Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima - although you could also argue that such incidents are as far from green as it's possible to be. Not to mention the production of, and requirement to store, radioactive material with a half-life measured in hundreds of thousands of years.

    Two of the biggest hurdles to "green" power - and I'll say here that I buy into it far more from an efficiency point of view than from a climate change point of view - are nimbyism and a lack of ambition within house-building. Too many people don't want a wind turbine anywhere near their home (or in the countryside), and I simply can't understand why house-builders aren't required to build a significant proportion of new homes with:
    - Grey water recycling and/or rainwater collection
    - Small scale wind turbines
    - Solar panels (for, at the very least, hot water heating)
  • The comments through facebook say it all. People who want to save money will go for the cheapest tariff. People who want to invest in green energy production will already be buying energy from a specialist supplier. Because for them, it's not just about the money, but the fact that they're getting it from and supporting a supplier with these values. The reason they're not switching to this new provider is probably loyalty to their current supplier, even if it's a bit cheaper.

    I'm currently with ecotricity. It costs a bit more, maybe £10-20 more per month, but I know this money is going into great schemes like new wind and solar farms, and even gas from food waste. That's worth much more to me than the money and I wouldn't switch because I've already found a great supplier.
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