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Green Energy - How green is it?

  • 6 November 2017
  • 6 replies
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Can anyone explain how OVO can supply 100% renewable electricity? Last time I looked, energy is distributed via the National Grid, which is fed from multiple sources. If OVO are not planning on laying in their own power lines to individual homes, how will this claim be achieved? And all for a mere £2.50 a month extra (half price special offer limited to 10,000 customers).
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Best answer by Mw2870 6 November 2017, 15:11

Hi Stroppy,

I don't work for OVO, so can't give you an exact answer, however I believe that Energy companies like OVO have to buy their electricity wholesale and put at least as much back into the National Grid as their customers take out.

Presumably they work out how much customers who are on 100% renewable tariffs use and make sure they buy at least that amount wholesale from renewable sources.

If you are on a renewable tariff then there is no guarantee that the actual electricity coming into your house is from a renewable source, as you say without them running their own distribution system, which would be prohibitively expensive. Due to the way the grid works it might be going to someone else's house, but I guess the net effect over the country is the same. If everyone was on a 100% renewable tariff then everything feeding the grid would have to be renewable too!

Here's a link on the OVO website that might help! https://www.ovoenergy.com/ovo-answers/topics/energy-and-environment/renewable-energy/does-ovo-offer-100-renewable-electricity.html
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Hi Stroppy,

I don't work for OVO, so can't give you an exact answer, however I believe that Energy companies like OVO have to buy their electricity wholesale and put at least as much back into the National Grid as their customers take out.

Presumably they work out how much customers who are on 100% renewable tariffs use and make sure they buy at least that amount wholesale from renewable sources.

If you are on a renewable tariff then there is no guarantee that the actual electricity coming into your house is from a renewable source, as you say without them running their own distribution system, which would be prohibitively expensive. Due to the way the grid works it might be going to someone else's house, but I guess the net effect over the country is the same. If everyone was on a 100% renewable tariff then everything feeding the grid would have to be renewable too!

Here's a link on the OVO website that might help! https://www.ovoenergy.com/ovo-answers/topics/energy-and-environment/renewable-energy/does-ovo-offer-100-renewable-electricity.html
Userlevel 1
Ovo is a supplier of electricity rather than a generator. Ovo buys electricity from companies that generate it. If more people sign up for 100% renewable electricity, Ovo will buy more of it. This means that less will be available for other suppliers to buy, and the proportion of renewable electricity supplied to their customers not on green tariffs will be reduced accordingly.

Unless you have a supplier that also generates electricity, so can produce more renewable electricity in response to demand, changing to a 100% renewable tariff will have absolutely no effect on the total amount of renewable electricity generated.
Bonzo Kelly is right - Unless you have a supplier that also generates electricity, so can produce more renewable electricity in response to demand, changing to a 100% renewable tariff will have absolutely no effect on the total amount of renewable electricity generated.

OVO may theoretically buy more 'renewable energy' but the reality is that you don't necessarily get supplied with it.

Think of it like this - you have a tub of water which is filled from several sources, one of which is purer, is limited in volume and costs more. You want this 'purer' water so pay extra for it. The problem is that it is mixed in the tub with all the other sources and can't be separated out. So, when you take your allotted volume of water you still get the mixture rather than the 'purer' that you have paid extra for.
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@Bonzo Kelly, @Stroppy you both make very good points.

The original question was "how OVO can supply 100% renewable electricity?", they can ethically say they purchase enough renewable energy to meet the demands of all their users who are paying for electricity from renewable sources. If 100% of OVO customers opted for 100% renewable then OVO would have to buy 100% from renewable sources.

In terms of increasing the amount of renewable energy going into the grid, your right. Just signing up for a renewable tariff is not going to ensure more renewable generation happens.

Demand would need to exceed supply for generators to start producing more from renewable sources and i'm sure this is unlikely to happen without incentives. I recall a massive uptake in domestic solar panels when it looked you could turn a profit (after recovering the cost of the equipment) in less than 10 years. It seems to me that now incentives have decreased the payback period could potentially exceed the lifespan of the equipment and people understandably seem less keen on installing.

In my view there will be plenty of users of the grid (individuals and companies) who would sooner take cheaper units over greener units and I can't see many people wanting to switch off a coal power station half way through its useful life without a very good reason to do so.

So should you pay a "mere £2.50 a month extra" for a renewable tariff from OVO. I guess this is more of an ethical question. Should you bother to recycle, knowing that others don't?
I buy free range eggs, which cost more, but I don't expect the battery farms to close overnight. Maybe I sleep a little better at night, maybe I don't!

Great discussion guys!
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In a nutshell, the only benefit to me as an individual of paying £2.50 extra would be the 'feel good factor' that I had reduced my personal 'carbon footprint'. It would have absolutely no effect on the total amount of carbon dioxide produced globally. If sufficient people chose these tariffs, it might influence governments to require more renewable energy to be produced, but I think that is unlikely.

As far as planting trees is concerned, it is more tax-efficient to do this through a charity such as the Woodland Trust, so your tax can be reclaimed through Gift Aid.
Can't say that I would benefit from the 'feel good factor' especially when we are forced to pay extra taxes etc. for so called 'green initiatives'. So, basically we have already paid for all of the renewable energy, whether you get it or not. Same with the recycling issues (another can of worms). But hey, if it makes you feel good to shell out even more of your hard earned money for no tangible benefit, feel free.

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