A quick guide to: renewable electricity supply

As all sectors of the UK economy work to reduce emissions and reach net zero by 2050, we explore the business implications of switching to renewable electricity.

What is green electricity?

Renewable electricity is defined as electricity that has been generated from renewable non-fossil fuel energy sources, such as wind, solar, hydropower, geothermal or biofuels. These are natural resources that can be replenished.

In order to guarantee that electricity consumed is generated by renewable sources, it must be supported by Renewable Energy Guarantees of Origin (REGOs).

What are the benefits of renewable energy?

Zero Carbon Business highlights two environmental benefits of using renewable energy over traditional fossil fuels: no harmful by-products, and fewer or no carbon emissions.

Additional business advantages could include:

How to switch to renewable energy

There are three ways you can switch to renewable energy:

  1. Request a green tariff with one of the main energy suppliers
  2. Switch to a specialist greener energy supplier
  3. Produce your own

Before you make a big change like this, it’s worth considering whether you could help to tackle climate change by focusing first on using less energy and energy sources you know are renewable (such as local generation rather than the grid). As the Edinburgh Climate Change Institute points out, current evidence is weak that green tariff electricity removes carbon from the system.

How could you produce your own energy?

By producing your own energy, you can ensure it’s green. You can do this by installing:

There are a few things to consider when deciding whether to install renewables. These include:

  • your business size – can you afford it?
  • your energy needs – do you know how much your business uses and what your emissions sources are?
  • whether you might need planning permission
  • if your premises belong to your business, or they are rented

Decarbonise your energy supply: get started in six steps

You could save money and reduce carbon emissions by keeping on top of your energy supply contracts and energy usage.

1. Understand your current energy use and costs

Look at your energy bills and supplier contracts to understand the current tariff type and rates, sources of energy and contract renewal dates.

2. Identify your future energy needs

Look for opportunities to make energy savings and improve energy efficiency through a managed energy action programme.

3. Engage with energy suppliers or an energy broker

Understand your options well ahead of renewing your contract. Compare offerings with other suppliers to ensure that you’re getting the best deal.

4. Monitor your energy use

Make sure you’re on track with your plans for energy saving. Ensure equipment is well maintained and switched off when not in use.

5. Calculate your carbon footprint

Understand what your key emissions sources are and prioritise areas for reducing your impacts. Report your carbon footprint to employees and customers in order to share your progress. Our Carbon Planner (below) is a tool aimed at supporting businesses to cut costs and carbon emissions.

6. Continue to manage your energy use

Regularly review your supplier contracts to ensure your business operates efficiently and savings are maintained.

What business support is available?

An energy-saving, more renewable-focused approach often requires big changes and has cost implications as well as a likely impact on processes and strategy. There are various sources of insight and support for businesses looking to take next steps.

We’re here to support your business and your climate goals, as we all make the transition to a low-carbon economy.

Discover more about the business programmes of the Edinburgh Climate Change Institute.

Across the UK, local funding is available for businesses looking to improve energy efficiency. Find out more on the GOV.UK database of business support programmes.

You can also claim 100% tax relief on renewable energy products such as:

  • solar water heaters
  • biomass boilers
  • heat pumps

Do you know your carbon footprint?

Sign up to the Carbon Planner today to find out how your business could potentially reduce emissions.

Sign up to the Carbon Planner

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