Bamboozling consumers with green-washed tariffs, energy’s lingering reputational wound, has seen another onslaught, with Good Energy, defender of pure power standards, alleging sharp practice by new entrant Bulb.
Meanwhile, the long-established wind and solar sponsor says UK investment as low as £14bn a year could achieve a ‘low cost’ Net Zero.
Bulb’s stretching of its ‘carbon-free supply whenever possible’ definition takes a kicking from Nigel Pocklington, Good Energy’s new CEO. In a recent blog on Good Energy’s website, he claimed Bulb’s claims amounted to carbon-free supply to its customers ‘only 4%’ of the time.
The Good Energy chief notes that Bulb lists on its generator map only 29 small carbon-free generators, included among the suppliers it needs to light and heat its customer base. Bulb puts the latter at 1.7 million accounts.
Pocklington cites a recent report into tariff greenwashing, which his firm and Scottish Power commissioned from consultants Baringa Partners. The paper highlighted the often spurious quality of REGOs – Renewable Energy Guarantees of Origin – certificates traded on wholesale markets, and often barely related to any underlying power.
“Bulb came out as one of the worst culprits (for REGOs)”, the Good Energy chief wrote, “backing just 4% of their ‘green’ tariffs with power bought from renewable generators. The rest is REGO-backed wholesale bought electricity”.
Pocklington also eviscerates Bulb’s website claim that “we have enough PPAs with renewable generators to meet up to 40% of our members’ demand.”
“What Bulb is saying”, the Good Energy boss concludes, “is if their 1.6 (sic) million customers all used much less electricity at the same time, and it happened to be very windy, they have enough PPAs to meet 40% of demand”.
Today, a fortnight after Pocklington’s accusations, Bulb supplied no point-by-point rebuttal. Instead, a company spokesperson doubled down, “We’ve always been transparent about our fuel mix, which is 100% renewable. Getting to net zero is a huge global effort and we don’t think it’s as simple as debating PPAs and REGOs.
“Taking energy efficient (sic) products mainstream will be essential to help the UK reach net zero. As well as providing affordable, renewable energy to our 1.7 (sic) million customers, we’re building technology that will transform how we use energy.
“And (Bulb) is a B Corp, which means we meet rigorous standards of social and environmental impact”.
In a separate development, Chippenham-based Good Energy has published modelling it commissioned from Catapult Energy Systems, putting costs to six different scenarios for Britain to reach Net Zero energy supply by 2050.
Titled ‘Renewable Nation: Pathways to a Zero Carbon Britain, the supplier’s research concludes the net costs of delivering Britain’s decarbonisation are between £14 and £49 billion per year. Such sums, the supplier argues, are manageable when compared to the £11bn yearly outlay on maintaining roads or Britain’s £42bn defence budget. Long term environmental and economic benefits only increase the favourable comparison.
According to Good Energy, the model suggests that by mid-century wind and solar could generate 98% of UK power, making redundant any new investment in nuclear and fossil fuel power.
It argues that a total of 210GW of solar power and 150GW of wind capacity, combined with 100GW of lithium-ion batteries for energy storage, could almost “fully” decarbonise the grid. Over 80 % of heating and 90% of transport would need to be electrified, for the scenario become reality.