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What Is Renewable Energy and Its Eco-Friendly Benefits?

What is ‘renewable energy'? Does switching to renewable energy cost more? And what are some benefits of moving to eco-friendly energy sources? We explore these questions.
wind turbines and solar panels against coastal landscape

Renewable energy refers to eco-friendly energy sources most of us are familiar with, like solar power and wind power. Other examples of renewable energy also include hydropower, tidal, biomass energy, geothermal energy and many more. 

Hydropower is the oldest and largest form of renewable energy, using water flow in dams and rivers to power turbines and produce electricity. It makes up about one-sixth of the world’s electricity supply. 

Unlike renewable energy sources, the energy generated by fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and gas is clearly detrimental to our planet. 

In this blog, we explore the role renewables play in our energy mix, including: 

  • The benefits of renewable energy 
  • Whether switching to a renewable energy supplier give us 100% renewable energy 
  • How energy suppliers can claim to be supplying renewable energy to consumers 
  • Whether renewable energy costs more 

What Are Some Benefits of Renewable Energy for the Planet?

It is well known that decreasing greenhouse gas emissions is critical for ensuring global heating does not surpass a maximum of 1.5C above pre-industrialised levels. 

The crucial benefit of renewable energy is that it is generated from natural resources and is therefore kinder to the environment. Our current use of fossil fuels is creating damaging greenhouse gases and pollutants. As well as adversely affecting the health of the population, our usage has contributed greatly to the speed of climate change,  setting us on a catastrophic path. 

Another clear benefit of renewable energy is the fact that it will never run out – given that it is renewable. Fossil fuels on the other hand, will only last us an estimated 40-60 years based on current usage rates. 

Wind turbine against mountain setting

Does Switching to a Renewable Energy Supplier Give You 100% Renewable Energy?

Unless you are generating energy via solar panels, your electricity supply may not consist of 100% renewable energy. Many homes and businesses across the UK receive their energy from the National Grid – a network of high-voltage power lines, and storage facilities that enable the distribution of electricity. 

The National Grid (which does not generate electricity but distributes it) can send power to homes and businesses via ‘Distribution Network Operators’ across the country. Energy suppliers act as a go-between buying up this energy, to sell it to consumers. 

The energy distributed by the National Grid is generated from a mixture of renewable and fossil fuel sources. It cannot be sorted, which means that all customers powered by the grid receive an energy mixture. So, your energy supplier cannot control the electricity that goes in through your plugs, because of the grid mix on any given day. However, you should speak with your supplier to see if they have the appropriate credentials to enable you to report the emissions associated with your electricity supply as zero carbon. 

Is it worth switching to a renewable energy tariff?

Although using a renewable energy supplier will not directly change your energy mix, it will have a positive impact and has the power to create change. You would be indirectly funding the production of renewable energy. Switching to a renewable energy supply helps increase demand for more electricity from renewable sources which is better for the planet. 

Energy suppliers can claim to be supplying renewable energy to consumers if they; 

  • Generate renewable energy themselves via production sites, like Mer’s owner Statkraft 
  • Contract directly with green generators to buy their renewable energy (Power Purchase Agreements (PPA)) 

Ask for renewable guarantees of origin certificates, to certify that a quantity of power is generated from renewable energy sources. 

By switching to a renewable energy tariff, you are sending a clear message that renewably sourced energy matters to you – putting pressure on suppliers, generators and the government. 

And, although renewable guarantee of origin certificates are related to existing energy, an increase in certificates purchased increases the demand for a higher proportion of renewable energy in the grid mix, which should eventually lead to the production of more of it. 

With a growing number of suppliers claiming to have green credentials, we do advise that when it comes to opting for a green tariff you assess each supplier’s ethos, goals and actions. 

We recommend choosing a supplier whose sustainability values are aligned with your own. For example, Bryt Energy is also part of the Statkraft group, Europe’s largest renewable energy generator. Bryt Energy’s zero carbon, 100% renewable electricity is sourced solely from Solar, Wind, and Hydro. Bryt’s electricity supply is backed by renewable guarantee of origin certificates, which allows all its customers to report their electricity consumption (Scope 2) as zero carbon, under the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol market-based method. 

Support for renewable energy is making a difference

Renewables made up an impressive 30% of the global electricity mix in 2023, and we are expected to see clean electricity power a 2% decrease in global fossil fuel generation in the coming year. By 2030, world leaders are aiming to increase renewables to 60% of global electricity. 

We are seeing the transformation of an industry – and the more people behind the change, the more likely we are to reach our goal to be net zero by 2050. 

Does Renewable Energy Cost More?

It is widely believed that renewable energy tariffs are more expensive. This was initially true when renewable generators were less common. However, as projects have increased, wholesale renewable energy costs have dropped – meaning renewable energy is now as cheap – and in some instances – cheaper, than fossil fuels. 

A 2022 study from Oxford University stated switching from fossil fuels to renewable energy could save the world as much as £10.2tn by 2050. 

Renewable Energy for Electric Vehicles (EV)

Transport remains the largest source of carbon dioxide emissions in the UK, accounting for 34% (2019) – with road transport representing the large majority of emissions. Reducing this harmful output from transport is essential in the fight against climate change.  

By switching to an electric vehicle, you could drastically cut your CO2 emissions. But taking it further, if you power your EV with a renewable electricity supplier offering 100% renewable energy, you could cut your fossil fuel emissions from vehicle usage even further. 

Read more about energising your EV with renewables. 

Young family charging an electric car

Statkrafts commitment to renewable energy in the UK

As Europe’s largest producer of renewable energy, Statkraft is contributing to industry change by providing renewable energy, PPAs and certificates of origin to our customers and partners to improve their environmental footprint. Statkraft has operated in the UK since 2006, and contributes to powering Great Britain with clean energy. To find out specifically what we are doing in the UK, read about Statkraft’s ongoing projects. 

Statkraft, Bryt Energy and Mer

With Statkraft’s century of experience in renewables and Bryt Energy’s zero carbon, 100% renewable electricity supply, plus our expertise in EV charging, we are part of a passionate and experienced family dedicated to a sustainable future. 

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