Those of you who have followed my previous articles on LinkedIn will know that I have a particular bugbear about Green Electricity tariffs.
I have three fundamental objections to these tariffs:
1. The tariffs are based on a lie. The renewable electricity has been produced as a result of the subsidy paid for by all electricity consumers not from any contribution made by the organisations or individuals falsely claiming it for themselves.
2. The use of these tariffs to report lower emissions leads to double-counting of emissions reductions. This is because the renewable generation is usually part of the mandatory target for utility companies and so form part of the UK-wide ‘location-based’ grid average CO2 conversion factors, but the same renewable electricity is used by the “green” tariffs consumers in their own ‘market-based’ calculations to claim zero emissions. As a result, the overall emissions recorded are lower than they actually are.
3. Most worryingly, is the possibility that that the Green Electricity tariffs disincentivise important efforts to reduce electricity use. After all, why invest additional time and money in the difficult work of energy efficiency if the emissions are already zero?
The latter concern has, until now, merely been a suspicion on my part, based on my own interactions with decision-makers in many organisations. Mindful that I could not find any research on this topic, I was delighted when my son, Connor Enright decided to look into this subject for his Natural Sciences Master’s thesis at the University of East Anglia – with the full support of his School and input of his thesis supervisors, of course.