Today the UK grid carbon intensity was 81g CO2e/kWh. This because we were using 35% wind, 23% solar, 20% nuclear.
This compares to 235gCO2e/kWh average over the last 12 months.
Regionally there is a difference (as different parts of the grid have different ratios of renewables). The greenest part of the grid was NE England (14) and S. Scotland (21), the least green was Yorkshire (253). See: https://carbonintensity.org.uk/ or use the App gridcarbon on your mobile phone.
These regional variations are down to where the renewables are connected. So if you live in Scotland or the SW generally you get “greener” electricity becasue there is more green energy on your local grid. Using the carbonintensity data you could decide when to charge your car or put on the dishwasher based on the current carbon intensity of your local grid. A neat way to be greener in your energy use at home.
This has nothing to do with what supplier you have or whether you are on a “green” tariff. We all share the grid and pay for much of the renewable generation through a contribution in all our energy bills (that pays for the government support mechanisms for large scale renewable installation - ROC, FIT and CfD).
Today was another day of negative energy prices, again driven by the amount of solar and wind generation. If you are lucky enough to be on the Octopus Energy Agile tariff (with smart meter) then you would have been paid over 4p/kWh to use energy from 9am to 4pm today!
So whilst the sun shines and wind blows we are also pumping out much less CO2.
It’s great to see renewable generation smashing so many targets, but we also mustn’t forget the part that total reduction in demand has had on these numbers. Due to the lockdown and industrial processes reducing, there has been a significant decrease in demand meaning renewables make up a larger proportion of the supply.
Whilst the electricity delivered may not always be low carbon because of the physical logistics, it’s important to highlight that moving to a green tariff will support investment in low carbon generation, helping to more quickly transition our generation capacity to low carbon.
The prices on the Octopus Agile tariff are really interesting and they’ll hopefully become the norm as Smart Meters are rolled out. A great time to have your own solar panels too as these guarantee low carbon generation (as long as the sun is shining - which I hope it will continue too!)
Switching to a “green tariff” may not bring new investment in low carbon generation and the companies who do offer the greenest tariffs (e.g. Ecotricity, Good Energy, Green Energy, Octopus) are not big enough to build the kind of generation we need to properly green the grid (large on-shore or offshore wind farms, 100MW+ solar farms). These are funded through government support (currently the Contract for Difference, CfD) and we all pay for this support through our energy bills already - whatever the tariff we are on.
Agree that if you have solar PV, small wind or small hydro then you are generating 100% green energy for your own use. Another route is to buy direct from a green generator on your local distribution network.
I refer you to my disucssion with Tom on the carbon calculator and green tariffs: