I don’t need any cans of spinach to shine some low-energy light on your dilemma. You’re spot on: the way the electricity market currently works makes it hard to judge whether consumer demand makes any difference at all. Each unit of renewable energy generated is awarded a certificate which can be sold from company A to company B. Company B can then use the certificate to count towards its legal obligation of supplying a certain quota of renewable electricity. So instead of two units of renewable energy existing, there is only one that is accounted for twice. In other words, fossil fuel-burning companies can simply buy certificates to cover their renewables obligations.
The kind of society-wide shift to a new power base favoured by Red Pepper is more likely to result from supporting electricity suppliers that source renewable energy and hang on to the certificates. This would limit the circulation of certificates, and encourage development in the renewables market. See Friends of the Earth\’s guide to green electricity tariffs for more details.
But consumer demand for renewable electricity sources must also increase massively if it is to influence the development of the green electricity market in any useful way. Your change of electricity supplier may indeed fizzle and fade as an act on its own, but if all your mates who bang on about wars over oil similarly stopped guzzling the stuff, you might spark something interesting.
#232: Rue Britannia ● The legacy of the British Empire ● An interview with Priyamvada Gopal ● The People’s Olympics ● An interview with Neville Southall ● Agribusiness in India ● Deliveroo’s disastrous IPO ● Latest book reviews ● And much more!
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Ted Benton tackles questions of truth, science and radical alternatives in a period of political turmoil
Low traffic neighbourhoods are part of building a fairer city, argues Rachel Aldred
As unethical companies continue to generate hefty profits, Josie Wexler examines various schemes for upholding ethical standards, and how much faith we should put in them
Leander Jones looks at the role of community supported agriculture as a 21st-century antidote to the destructive and increasingly fragile corporate agricultural model
Alethea Warrington describes how the fossil fuels industry hopes to change its image but not its practice
Phillip O’Sullivan looks at the role of community energy groups in disrupting the energy status quo
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