Greenwashing alert

Energy firms face probe over ‘green deal’ claims

wind farm

Green deals may not be all they claim to be

UK government ministers have launched an investigation into renewable electricity tariffs as concerns grow over the validity of some deals.

A review will determine how the sector markets these tariffs to consumers to stop firms from exaggerating their environmental benefits – a tactic known as greenwashing.

UK energy minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan said nine million households are on “100% renewable” or “green” tariffs, but warnings have emerged from within the industry that the claims may be misleading and have been calling for changes to rules over the way they are labelled.

Firms are able to advertise their tariffs as “green” even if some of the energy they supply comes from fossil fuels.

They can do this by purchasing Renewable Energy Guarantees of Origin certificates to offset the use of fossil fuels, with each certificate guaranteeing a similar amount of green energy is produced.

Energy suppliers could be forced to provide clearer information to consumers about their green tariffs, including the type of renewable energy used, such as wind or solar, and where and when the renewable power was generated.

Ms Trevelyan said: “Millions of UK households are choosing to make the green switch, and more and more of our energy comes from renewables.

“But I want people to know that when they sign up to a green tariff, they are investing in companies that make a conscious choice to invest in renewable energy. Part of that is ensuring companies are being as transparent as possible on where their power comes from.”

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