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Pure Planet's thoughts on Renewable Energy Guarantees of Origin (REGOs)


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Hi everyone

Just wanted to share Pure Planet's thoughts in response to some media reports about REGOs (short for the Renewable Energy Guarantees of Origin).

This scheme provides transparency to consumers about the proportion of electricity that suppliers source from renewable generation. 

We've got a community FAQ about REGOs and we've got lots of fantastic community conversations about renewable energy and sustainability. We’ve also talked about how our Members have offset over a million tonnes of CO2 with Pure Planet.

In response to some media reports about REGOs, here's our thoughts, posted in full below:

 

Green tariffs

Pure Planet is proud to have been the first supplier in Britain to offer the combination of renewable electricity and carbon-offset gas for great value for money across all our tariffs as standard.

All electricity suppliers have to follow the exact same rules, which are set by our regulator Ofgem, to label a tariff as renewable.

This certification regulation is the same, for every green tariff, regardless of the financial instrument utilised to purchase electricity by a supplier on a consumers’ behalf.

Our electricity is classified as renewable, as is every other green provider’s, because it is backed with Renewable Energy Guarantees of Origin (REGOs) certificates. There is nothing else that makes electricity green, or indeed any supplier’s electricity more green than any other.

All electricity distributed to homes in Britain is carried over the national grid. Green suppliers do not have cables running directly between renewable generators to their customers’ homes. 

That is why REGOs exist: they prove that an amount of green electricity has been generated - from wind or solar, for example - and put onto the grid on a customer’s behalf, even though at that moment in time it is effectively shared by everyone. 

REGOs work over time - a year in fact. So what a household consumes over time is matched by renewable power generated over the same period of time. This also allows the system to take account of calm and dull days, when power on the grid is less likely to be generated by renewables.

It is in suppliers matching the amount of green power that has been generated with the amount householders consume over 12 months that allows suppliers to claim that its tariff is green. 

So, all green suppliers have to follow the same rules – it’s these that make electricity green. 

 

How suppliers buy electricity from generators

Separately, there are different financial methods that suppliers can use to buy electricity – in the open wholesale market, which is how many renewable generators choose to sell their power – or through what are known as Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs), which are direct deals made between particular suppliers (or their broker) and generators.

Choosing one method over another does not in and of itself make the electricity any greener. PPAs can also be used by suppliers to buy nuclear, gas and coal fired-power generation.

It’s also suggested that electricity provided by suppliers who hold PPAs are actively supporting the development of new renewable energy generation. But not all PPAs are used to support the creation of a brand new wind farm or solar array, for example – only a few are. Those PPAs that support smaller generators to set up are helpful. But many PPAs do not. They are used merely as financial tools to pay for power from an existing wind farm or solar array. 

 

How renewables are supported

It is also important to note that all energy customers, whether they’re with a green supplier or not, support renewable energy generation through a tax contained within their bills. All suppliers pay levies such as Contracts for Difference and the Renewable Obligation which are collected through domestic energy bills and which go towards ensuring renewable generators make a meaningful – and growing – contribution to our national energy mix. 

Finally, we think consumers buy more than just a tariff when they buy energy; people buy into a supply company’s ethos and brand values too. All Pure Planet’s tariffs are 100% renewable and fully carbon offset as standard, without exception. 

Pure Planet is also a Which? Recommended Provider 2020 and 2021; we’re a signatory to the United Nations Global Compact, meaning we work towards the Sustainable Development Goals; and we’re a Living Wage and Disability Confident employer. While these don’t make Pure Planet’s electricity any greener, or gas any cleaner, we think they are also worth considering when choosing a supplier.
 


8 replies

That’s for posting @Marc. I look forward to the discussions below about why these terms are misunderstood/misused...

This report written by ScottishPower and Good Energy came to my attention,  

 

https://indd.adobe.com/view/e5febc9c-8ced-47e5-b376-f97fd51137af

 

in the report is suggest the certificate based on ‘traded uk renewable certificates’ are effectively green washing.  
 

I appreciate they are competitors - and would want to present info in such a manner - but would be grateful for you response.

Hey @Stephen B 

I’ve added your post to this existing thread. See PP thoughts above :point_up_2: I hope that it’s useful! 

TL; (I need a) DR @Stephen B… (meant nicely)

Sorry @25 quid  not quite sure what you mean by your reply abbreviations.?

Haha, sorry. I was busy and overawed by the amount of text. Hence TL;DR.

Maybe I’ll go back and look again, but I was hoping for a summary… 😉 

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I have a comment about this sentence:

“There is nothing else that makes electricity green, or indeed any supplier’s electricity more green than any other.”

(I apologise in advance for the potential complaints of TL;DR. The first sentence below is too long but I can’t be bothered to reconstruct it...)

I’m not going to argue whether the sentence quoted from @Marc ‘s post above is or isn’t “true” but what I would contend is, if and/or when there is a supplier who actually generates energy which they sell to the grid having built or invested in solar or wind (or whatever method of renewable generation they use) either directly or through third party investment,  and/or a supplier who produces or invests in their own “green” gas for example anaerobically, rather than just using REGOs or other financial instruments, I personally would consider their electricity and/or gas to be “greener”. That is however only my opinion, based on doing rather than offsetting.

I should really research  to see if there are suppliers who fall into this category, I believe there are, but research is fraught with bias and other sales agendas. For that reason it would not be appropriate to post the results of such foraging here and anyway I don’t think I could do justice to that point solely with a google search (that in itself poses even more questions).

Suffice to say that even if others who read this don’t share my view, it’s apparent from even cursory research that such claims are prolific. (That doesn’t prove that my opinion is correct, but it does partly explain why REGO’s are subject to contention).

That is all...

 

 

It’s a fair point @woz.

However, I still don’t get why there is a mis-trust of REGOs.

Surely they are just a financial mechanism for letting any specialist retailer buy the green energy produced by any specialist generator. Generally being a jack of all trades means you’re the master of none — so shouldn’t REGOs allow a more efficient system overall?

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