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How renewable is my OVO energy? Maybe not as much as I assumed?

  • 27 September 2019
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I'm alarmed by the report in todays Times.

Dear OVO, please respond in detail.

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/energy-firms-accused-of-greenwash-over-tariffs-phqpfkj9n
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Best answer by Darran_OVO 27 September 2019, 11:51

Hey @Fred Rick

We are aware of this article, please see below the detail as requested! Hope this helps.

All OVO Group Retail brands that supply electricity are included under one supply licence and all tariffs come with a minimum of 33% renewable electricity backed by REGOs as standard. From 1st October 2019 we will be increasing this to a minimum of 50% renewable electricity. OVO Energy customers can choose to add 100% green electricity backed by REGOs to any OVO Energy tariff.

OVO does not own any renewable generation or have any contracts (PPAs) to buy electricity directly from renewable generators. We match the amount of electricity consumed by customers with Renewable Electricity Guarantee of Origin certificates (REGOs).

We continuously monitor the number of customers that have upgraded to 100% renewable electricity and calculate the total volume of renewable energy supplied on each day. We then match the total volume with Renewable Electricity Guarantee of Origin certificates (REGOs), that are used to verify the sources of our electricity.

Any other comments, please share below.

Darran
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Hey @Fred Rick

We are aware of this article, please see below the detail as requested! Hope this helps.

All OVO Group Retail brands that supply electricity are included under one supply licence and all tariffs come with a minimum of 33% renewable electricity backed by REGOs as standard. From 1st October 2019 we will be increasing this to a minimum of 50% renewable electricity. OVO Energy customers can choose to add 100% green electricity backed by REGOs to any OVO Energy tariff.

OVO does not own any renewable generation or have any contracts (PPAs) to buy electricity directly from renewable generators. We match the amount of electricity consumed by customers with Renewable Electricity Guarantee of Origin certificates (REGOs).

We continuously monitor the number of customers that have upgraded to 100% renewable electricity and calculate the total volume of renewable energy supplied on each day. We then match the total volume with Renewable Electricity Guarantee of Origin certificates (REGOs), that are used to verify the sources of our electricity.

Any other comments, please share below.

Darran
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Thanks Darren for your speedy reply.
@Darran_OVO I also read this topic (in Which? today) and then came into the Ovo website to check the explanation that you give, about green energy. Informed by today's story, I have concluded that Ovo, like the other big energy providers, is being somewhat disingenuous by not making it clear to consumers that signing up for a green plan does not mean that the electricity actually consumed by them comes from 100% green sources. As Which? says, it's the same electricity as the neighbours have.

In any case, while https://www.ovoenergy.com/ovo-fuel-mix is useful, the essential explanations provided by superscript references 3, 4 and 5 are not present under Terms & Conditions, which doesn't help. Can this omission be fixed?
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Thanks for your comments @Doric we've always been open about how we leverage REGO's to ensure we are supporting more renewable generation. A lot of energy companies follow the same process. The main point is the more customers that sign up to green tariffs, the more money goes back into renewable generation sources, and not fossil fuels, even if we don't actually own a physical renewable energy generation source.

Great spot on the T&C's, I've checked with the team that look after this and they've already replied to say thanks for pointing that out. They are actually in the process of updating this page, so will make sure that gets resolved as part of the updates.
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I understand the electricity I use is the same as my neighbours and I only need certainty that the 100% green power I pay for is fed into the grid...somewhere.

When talking to friends and acquaintances I note there is a widespread view among them that the "certificates" system does not always fully ensure the generation of green power.

I wonder if OVO widely championed the promotion and delivery of green power and then informed with simple clarity to their customers they could be certain that their business and image would be further enhanced?

I'm no expert on this subject however I do need to believe that my power supplier is at all times working as hard as possible to reduce CO2 etc in a very demonstrable way.

And if OVO ever decide to directly generate it's own green power..let me know...I may invest.
If I read the Times article and the OVO reply correctly, if I and other OVO customers buy, say, a total 10MWh of electricity on 100% renewable tariff, OVO could actually be buying far less than 10MWh of electricity from renewable sources. If so, we are being conned.
So question: over the last 12 months, what was the ratio between OVO sales (MWh) of "renewable" electricity, and its actual purchase of electricity (not Regos) from renewable sources?
Exactly the question/comment I was going to make. I'll be very interested to see the response. As a payer of the green energy upgrade I'm feeling somewhat concerned that OVO aren't actually buying the energy I'm paying for.
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OVO does not own any renewable generation or have any contracts (PPAs) to buy electricity directly from renewable generators. We match the amount of electricity consumed by customers with Renewable Electricity Guarantee of Origin certificates (REGOs).

@100317548 and @Hunter_jim as per my original reply, please see the answer to your question here.

Darran
Hi Darren - please can you give a direct answer to my question, which aims to get past the issue of REGOs. Here it is again: "Over the last 12 months, what was the ratio between OVO sales (MWh) of "renewable" electricity, and its actual purchase of electricity (not Regos) from renewable sources?" Not looking for an exact figure - nearest 10% would be fine.
If, as The Times suggested, the answer is that it's a lot less than 100%, or (worse) that you don't know, then I'll consider taking my business to another supplier who is more honest.
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Hey @100317548 as I've stated before, OVO doesn't own any renewable generation or have any contracts (PPAs) to buy electricity directly from renewable generators, so it's not possible to give you a figure on that.

For those OVO members that choose a green tariff with us, we match the amount of electricity consumed by our members with Renewable Electricity Guarantee of Origin certificates (REGOs).
Have you read the article in The Times https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/energy-firms-accused-of-greenwash-over-tariffs-phqpfkj9n ? I've copied it below. The key point is that you can buy REGOS certificates independently of where you're buying the power, as they're traded separately. So I could be paying extra for a 'Green' tariff when in reality all the power OVO is purchasing is from coal.

The article says 'Companies are obliged to disclose to their customers the mix of fuels used to generate the electricity they supply annually'. Please can you give me your most recent data.

Energy firms accused of ‘greenwash’ over tariffs


Energy companies are misleading customers with a “greenwash” by claiming to sell renewable electricity but not directly buying any power from wind and solar farms and other renewable sources, according to the Which? consumer group.
It found that companies were buying certificates costing as little as 30p per megawatt-hour that allow them to claim their electricity was “100 per cent renewable”.
A supplier could spend less than a £1 a year buying certificates to cover the 3.1 MWh consumed annually by the average customer and then state that their tariff was 100 per cent renewable.
The certificates, called renewable energy guarantees of origin (Regos), are administered by Ofgem, the energy regulator, and issued to generators for every MWh of renewable electricity they produce.
The certificates are traded on the open market and suppliers can buy them without buying the renewable electricity that they certify.
Which? said that several companies including Green Star Energy, Ovo, Pure Planet, Robin Hood Energy and Yorkshire Energy all sold “100 per cent renewable” electricity tariffs which were “solely backed up” by Regos and not by generating renewable energy themselves or having contracts to buy it directly from generators.
Which? said that it was “concerned the system allowed suppliers who relied exclusively on Regos to greenwash their tariffs while seemingly doing very little to support renewable electricity generation”. The misleading green tariffs tend to be cheaper than those offered by companies which support the expansion of renewable energy by investing directly in it. Which? identified two companies, Ecotricity and Good Energy, which it said were genuinely green because “they generate or have contracts with generators to buy enough renewable electricity to match their customers’ usage”.
A survey of 4,000 adults by Which? found that 11 per cent believed energy firms that sold renewable electricity generated some of that electricity, and that 8 per cent believed they generated all of it.
Richard Headland, Which? editor-in-chief, said: “As consumers grow more environmentally conscious, it’s concerning that some suppliers appear to be greenwashing their energy tariffs, which could risk misleading customers.
“There needs to be greater clarity on how renewable electricity is defined and marketed. People can only make informed decisions about where to buy their energy if firms are more transparent about their green credentials.”
The companies identified by Which? denied that they were misleading customers. Robin Hood Energy said: “Since July 2018, 100 per cent of the electricity we supply is purchased from a partner who sources from specified UK wind and solar projects.”
Ofgem confirmed that Rego certificates could be bought independently of the electricity they represented. It said: “Ofgem requires suppliers who offer green tariffs to explain how they source renewable electricity.”
More than a third of Britain’s electricity was generated from renewable sources between April and June, up 3.5 percentage points on a year earlier, according to the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy.
Behind the story
People who want to do their bit to fight climate change by buying green power face a bewildering array of tariffs (Ben Webster writes).
Many companies claim to sell “100 per cent renewable energy”, but this is no guarantee they have actually bought any electricity from a wind farm or other renewable source. Customers who want to be sure their energy supplier is helping to reduce emissions should look for a company that has invested in its own renewable energy sites.
They should ask if the company has any contracts, known as power purchase agreements, to buy electricity directly from renewable generators. Truly green companies also tend to buy all their electricity from renewable sources, rather than just a low percentage to sell to the fraction of their customers who care enough to pay more for it. Companies are obliged to disclose to their customers the mix of fuels used to generate the electricity they supply annually.
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Hey @100317548 sure, here's a link to our website where you can view OVO Energy's fuel mix.

And yes we read the article in the times, and Fred shared a link to it, in his original post.
Thanks.

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