The UK government is launching a review into how electricity companies market renewable energy deals to consumers in an effort to prevent retailers from overstating how environmentally friendly their products are and to improve transparency over where their power comes from.
Some nine million UK households are now on "green" tariffs and more than half of all new electricity tariffs are badged as “100% renewable”.
“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,” Energy Minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan said in a statement.
At the moment, energy companies can market tariffs as “green” even if part of the energy they supply comes from fossil fuels, as long as they buy certificates that offset the fossil fuels - so-called Renewable Energy Guarantees of Origin (REGOs).
“The review launched today will explore the extent of ‘greenwashing’ in the retail energy sector, whether the current system is suitably transparent and whether the rules around what can be called a ‘green’ tariff remain fit for purpose,” Trevelyan said.
Head of Regulation at Uswitch.com, Richard Neudegg, said: “More and more people are purchasing green tariffs but it’s been difficult for bill-payers to know exactly what’s under the hood of these deals. We support any measures that aim to demystify green tariffs for households.”
The government is also looking into the role played by third-party intermediaries in the retail energy market, such as price comparison sites, auto-switching services and non-domestic brokers.