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UK firms buy ‘green energy’ proof from Europe but burn fossil fuel

January 13, 2020

By Paul Homewood



UK energy providers have turned to Eastern Europe to buy cheap green energy certificates that let them claim they provide 100pc renewable energy while continuing to rely on fossil fuels.

Such schemes are known in the industry as “dirty REGOs”, in reference to watchdog Ofgem’s Renewable Energy Guarantees of Origin (REGO) plan.

Under current government rules, suppliers can claim to sell 100pc clean electricity by purchasing REGO certificates from renewable generators such as wind farms.

So instead of paying for clean energy from the renewable sources, companies are buying paper certificates equivalent to a unit of green energy.

These certificates let firms market their tariffs as completely green, when they might actually be buying electricity from a coal-fired power station.

Now, industry insiders say that instead of buying these certificates from UK renewable generators, energy suppliers are purchasing them from Lithuania, the cheapest market for REGOs in the EU.


I have long argued that “green energy” deals are little more than a scam, and that, no matter how many customers sign up for them, the amount of renewable electricity generated in the UK remains the same.

Most companies offering such deals merely shuffle bits of paper around, instead of actually buying renewable energy. Now we learn that some of these bits of paper come from countries like Lithuania.

Still, if it makes Guardian readers feel better!

  1. Joe Public permalink
    January 13, 2020 2:51 pm

    Can anyone explain how the electron mix supplied to two adjacent properties by the same grid & used at the same instant, can be different? Even if one is on a “100% Renewables” tariff & the other isn’t.

    Supplementary question:

    What actually happens to the ‘dirty’ electricity comprising the contaminated electrons the ‘100%-renewables’ suppliers filter out of their ‘clean’ electricity?

    • A C Osborn permalink
      January 13, 2020 5:24 pm

      That is the question, once the electrons are in the grid they are all mixed and no one can tell where they have come from.
      The only way to buy and sell to customers green energy is to buy it directly from an off grid wind or solar farm and cable it to the customer.
      All these small cheap green suppliers don’t actually produce anything but paper or internet data.

      • Auralay permalink
        January 13, 2020 6:14 pm

        Actually, they facts of AC transmission are even more absurd. The electrons don’t travel along the wires but oscillate about a fixed position, like water molecules in a sea wave. The generators create the force to power the oscillations. So the electrons you are”burning” are the ones sitting in your own wires all along.

  2. January 13, 2020 2:54 pm

    More green tomfoolery. When are they going to ban it all?

    • January 13, 2020 4:27 pm

      Latest climate craziness…

      Sadiq Khan launches new green energy company – London Power

      All the electricity supplied to consumers will be matched with power generated from renewable sources like solar panels and wind farms and any profits made by City Hall will be reinvested in community projects to help tackle fuel poverty and make London a zero carbon city.

      • Pancho Plail permalink
        January 13, 2020 7:06 pm

        Oh, yes. It went very well when Nottingham Council did it.

      • Gerry, England permalink
        January 14, 2020 1:49 pm

        Don’t plan anything based on the profits as there won’t be any. The tie-less little creep has never run a business in his life and TfL is only being kept alive by the tax on vehicles entering London.

        I don’t know if anyone can turn up the power consumption of Greater London to see if it exceeds all the solar and wind in the UK? If it does then the little twerp’s matching claim is a lie.

  3. Paul Reynolds permalink
    January 13, 2020 3:04 pm

    I suppose it’s not in the governments interest to expose and put an end to the scam because the myth suits its idiotic and pie in the sky energy policy.

  4. January 13, 2020 3:19 pm

    Yes, all part of the green scam, taking money from the poor and creating fuel poverty.

    All my electricity comes from Sizewell B (clean and green electrons guaranteed).

  5. January 13, 2020 3:57 pm

    I f I print off some nice green certificates can I sell them to the electricity companies? Could be a nice little earner!

  6. GeoffB permalink
    January 13, 2020 6:03 pm

    AC electricity just wiggles the electrons backwards and forwards 50 times a second. In fact because the actual velocity of a single electron is rather slow, you probably have the same electrons in your house wiring forever. Its just the wiggling you are paying for, I did think, in my younger days, to not pay my electricity bill on the grounds that whatever came in, went out 10 milliseconds later.

  7. Drew permalink
    January 13, 2020 8:18 pm

    If this virtue signalling trend among the energy companies continues; then pretty soon the amount of “Renewable Energy” purchased by consumers in the UK will exceed the total of “Renewable Energy” generated and that transmitted over the various interconnects.

    • OldCynic permalink
      January 13, 2020 10:52 pm

      Drew, I’m sure that already happens,
      It should be obvious to anyone with an ounce of common sense that where there is a complex system and buckets of cash, there will be people ready to game (or outright defraud) the system and pocket the money. I would like to see the UK government do two things:
      1) Announce that henceforth the only Green Energy Certificates accepted in the UK will be for power generated in the UK or in UK waters ie reduce the scope for fraud.
      2) Collect figures every day for the amount of Green Energy supplied to the national grid, and for the amount of supposed Green Energy supplied to consumers
      Then we can all have a laugh at the antics of the energy retailers trying to explain why they cannot supply all the Green Power that they have marketed.

    • Peter Barrett permalink
      January 14, 2020 10:35 am

      That would be an interesting calculation. On cold, windless nights we are probably already well past that point. If the annual figure were to prove the point a lot of publicity would not go amiss.

  8. Peter Barrett permalink
    January 13, 2020 8:46 pm

    Bulb: sources 100% renewable energy
    Tonik: uses solar power and biogas to provide its renewable energy
    Green Energy: sources most of its electricity from solar power at 35.96%
    Good Energy: takes half its electrify power from wind, and a quarter from solar panels
    Outfox The Market: sources its electricity from 100% renewable sources

    There are just a few examples of many similar claims made by power companies. Are they lies, misleading, or just physically impossible? Are the general public really that gullible that they believe all this?

    • January 14, 2020 9:18 am

      What does ‘sources their electricity’ mean? The actual electricity coming down the wires to a house doesn’t change when the householder goes online and switches suppliers.

  9. January 13, 2020 9:09 pm

    Anything on paper is falsifiable . The green deal is a complete hoax in such a way that the biggest cheater is reaping the biggest bonuses .It is a total killer of any smidgeon of morality left in our society .In future we should talk about maoreality instead of morality which was left in the dust a long time ago .

  10. January 14, 2020 11:26 am

    Just received an interesting article on Germany’s new coal powered plant. Not sure if you saw the original Bloomberg article, but I could not find any link to it on your blog. I’ve copied and pasted for your interest. Keep up your good work.

    In November the Bloomberg headline read, “Germany Is Turning Gas-Fired Power Plants Back On”. Yesterday, things got even stranger: “New German Coal Plant Could Threaten Merkel’s Final Climate Push”.

    A new coal power plant is not exactly what climate campaigners had in mind when they idolised Germany’s Energiewende…

    The narrative Germany’s government is spinning goes something like this: after Fukushima we had to shut down nuclear power. The only ready alternative was coal. Hence the increase in emissions in the short term. But by 2038, we’ll be off coal.

    But 2038 is ages away…

    Going off coal in 18 years’ time sounds good. But I’m not convinced it’ll satisfy the campaigners. They’ll grow up by then.

    And Bloomberg’s graph shows the gas being sold as a solution in the meantime is still a heavy polluter too.


    But opening a new coal power plant is absurd. It’s just the ridicule that climate change sceptics were looking for. At least everyone is happy. Well, both extremes in the debate. The campaigners get to campaign about the coal plant, regardless which way they’re campaigning – for or against.

    The German government’s line on the embarrassing new coal plant specifically is a little craftier. The pitch is to close higher pollution older coal power plants as the new ones are more efficient. “There is understanding from the government that it makes sense to turn on the most efficient plant,” Uniper CEO Andreas Schierenbeck said in an interview with Bloomberg in November. Besides, the new plant will be shut down by 2038 anyway, in time for the official data Germany will go coalless. This could be the last new coal plant in Europe.

    But why build one given all the alternatives available? Part of the game being played is subsidies, Bloomberg’s journalists reckon. The German government has pledged aid to the regions of Germany set to be worst hit by the coal ban. The coal companies are fighting over those subsidies by changing their business models to maximise the chance of getting their hands on some of that cash. The German government is effectively subsidising coal by helping to pay for its future decommissioning…

    The new coal plant that’s in the news is being built by a listed company called Uniper. About 30% of Uniper’s power comes from coal and half from gas. The stock has almost trebled in value since it was spun off and listed in 2016. Not bad for believers in E.ON’s unwanted fossil fuel assets.

    Coal and gas powered Uniper share price on fire


    Source: Yahoo Finance

    To summarise, Germany is about to open a coal power plant run by a fossil fuel company, whose share price has trebled since it was dumped with unwanted fossil fuel assets, because the subsidies for closing down coal power plants are so generous. And this under the much favoured Energiewende.

    What a complete cockup.

    But it’s appearances that climate change campaigners care about. “It cannot be that Germany’s coal exit will be marked by the opening of one of the biggest coal-fired power stations in Europe,” said senior Green Party politician Oliver Krischer in an email to Bloomberg. But it is. That’s what you get for abandoning nuclear power.

    But over in France, it’s even worse. Or better, depending on how you see things.

    The country relies on nuclear for 80% of its power, defeating the purpose of Germany going nuclear free, if you ask me. They should’ve learned that from Chernobyl at least.

    But it’s this statistic from my Capital & Conflict colleague Boaz Shoshan that had me coughing and spluttering. Around 80% of French cars run on diesel. Other estimates are at 70%. It depends on how you classify “car”.

    French government plans to cut diesel subsidies to reflect VW’s dieselgate discoveries is causing uproar. Uproar that goes by the name of Gilet Jaunes.

    This means you can trace the Gilet Jaunes protest back to misguided green energy policies of the past. Subsidising and favouring diesel for its lower CO2 emissions was a mistake. It’s the Maginot Line of green energy which the Germans just manoeuvred around to sell their diesel Volkswagens.

    But here’s the key, as far as I’m concerned: reversing that green policy when it went wrong caused a political crisis.

    Who will win between the climate change campaigners and the Gilet Jaunes in France? I wouldn’t mind seeing that play out given what commuters did to Extinction Rebellion in London.


  11. Gerry, England permalink
    January 14, 2020 1:59 pm

    As far as I can tell, nobody actually charges you a virtue-signalling fee anymore. They used to but I suspect their customer base hardly grew. So with everyone claiming to be 100% green I don’t think it matters that much anymore that people are being misled. And if it is just Guardian readers being misled then it certainly doesn’t matter.

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