How green is your business energy?

  • 01 Jul 2020

25 years ago, green energy was a new concept.

Back then it was easy to see which electricity tariffs and suppliers were green but today it’s not so clear – and not all energy tariffs are as green as they seem. 

‘Shades of green’ has become a common term to describe energy tariffs and suppliers, as highlighted in 2018 by Regen, the not-for-profit energy insights organisation with a mission to transform the world’s energy systems for a zero carbon future.

But what do the different colours mean – and how are they relevant to your business’s energy? 


A brown supplier generates electricity from a mix of fossil fuels, nuclear and renewable energy sources. In the main, they’re not helping to tackle climate change, as generating energy from fossil fuels leads to more carbon emissions, more greenhouse gases and ultimately irreversible climate change. 


Brown tariffs will include some renewable electricity, simply because it exists in the National Grid (the grid in 2019 was 32% green but only 8-10% is sold as green). Some brown suppliers will offer a ‘green’ tariff, but this is often made up of a small percentage of renewables which already exist in a fossil fuel energy mix, and the supplier simply markets the tariff as green. So, the supplier doesn’t actually make the overall national energy mix any greener – it only changes the allocation of renewables between suppliers and between customers. 

Pale green

These suppliers may generate a small amount of renewable electricity or buy directly from generators through Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs). However, this only accounts for a small proportion of the electricity they supply, so the majority of their energy mix may still be from fossil fuels.

Suppliers advertise these tariffs as 100% green but many will simply buy REGO certificates (Renewable Energy Guarantee of Origin) to match the electricity they supply, so they can call themselves green without generating the energy or buying the green energy from the generator. This is problematic. 

As with Brown energy suppliers, the electricity already exists in the national grid and therefore pale green suppliers  only move the allocation of already available green energy between suppliers. Unless these pale green energy suppliers are actively investing in and supporting renewable generators to build new forms of green energy, they’re not helping to tackle the climate crisis.


Deep green 

These suppliers generate some or all of their own electricity – and buy all or most of their electricity from green generators, too. The electricity they supply is 100% renewable and will be backed by REGOs, but the key difference is that by using these energy suppliers you can be assured that the money from your bills is directly reinvested into expanding renewable energy generation in Britain.

Choosing a deep green supplier – like Ecotricity – means that you’re making a genuine difference when you pay your energy bills – helping to green up the grid and creating a greener Britain.




Zellar can help you discover where your business energy is coming from, and guide you on your way to power your business with 100% renewable energy.  Getting you to carbon zero faster!





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