The philosophy behind 100Green

A Q&A with our Founder and Chairman, Doug Stewart



We were delighted that Ethical Consumer Magazine caught up with Doug Stewart recently, to chat about the values that have existed behind 100Green since the company was founded in 2001. The same values that drive our decision making to this day and keep us focussed on the small but (we believe), important part we play in the UK's journey to net zero.

100Green is a Best Buy label Ethical & Green Energy Supplier.

Tell us a bit about 100Green?

Well, the first thing to say is that we are the UK’s only supplier of 100% green gas and renewable electricity. We have been around for almost 23 years and we have remained a small energy supplier by choice, steadily growing, primarily by word of mouth. We made the decision early on that won’t grow any faster than our green credentials will allow us and within our available finances.

We remain wholly focussed on providing our customers with energy that comes from 100% green and renewable sources. We also think it’s important to always have enough people to answer the phone when our customers call. We don’t think artificial intelligence replaces real-life conversation and based on what our customers tell us we believe they feel the same way.

Why do you think you received our Best Buy label? What separates you from other ethical & green energy suppliers?

We expect nothing and stive for everything.

We have worked hard to make green energy both mainstream and affordable. When asked what we do, we answer we are the only supplier of 100% green gas and renewable electricity. But if we turn that on its head, we are also saying we are the only gas and electricity supplier who doesn’t sell fossil fuels. Put like that, it often comes as a surprise to people.

On the road to net zero, there are many challenges. We have no desire to throw stones at our competitors, many are doing valuable work as we transition to being a greener country.

But for us, we like to keep things green and simple, and if our biggest obstacle as a country is to move away from fossil fuels, then offering this to customers at an individual level has always felt like a very obvious way to contribute to that green journey.

Do you see a growing demand for ethical & green energy supplier options?

Yes, absolutely we do, we are part of the supply side solution.

But part of the challenge is around educating people. There are many misconceptions surrounding the subject of green energy. For example, we are often asked how consumers are making a difference buying green energy if the energy going into their homes is just the same as the energy going into their next-door neighbours.

We explain that it’s how the energy is generated that is the green part, and the greener the energy going in, the greener the grid becomes. Our green gas goes into the same distribution system as everyone else’s fossil fuel gas. The difference is ours, biogas, was produced using waste organic materials such as farm waste.

The other challenge we face as we encourage people to consider choosing green and renewable energy is the perception around price. We recently carried out some research and found that 80% of the people we asked, believe that green energy should be cheaper than other fuels - because the sun and the wind are free.

As far as the sources, wind, water, sunshine, are concerned this is true. However, energy is delivered to our homes and businesses through infrastructure and consumer demand doesn’t follow the availability of those natural resources in terms of time of day or season. Equally, it’s a commodity and the wholesale price is currently dictated by global markets.

Until renewables and green sources dominate supply and the markets become independent of fossil fuels, gas prices have the ability to dictate the wholesale price of electricity, which is what all of us in northern Europe experienced following the constriction of gas supplies from Russia; Demand exceeded supply; GCSE economics says the price goes up, with real life consequences.

When people choose to buy their energy from a green supplier, they are choosing to support the sustainable generation of energy – helping the UK to move away from fossil fuels.

If customers choose 100Green, then as an individual they can make that move right now.

What is your advice to consumers?

Check the proposition. Does it do what you want and expect, does it align with your own values.

We know that many customers who switch to us have done their homework and they choose us because our values match with theirs, so that would always be our advice.

If you really care about where your energy comes from, then do take the time to understand how and where your supplier sources not just electricity, but gas as well.

It isn’t simple, nor is the solution a perfect one and no energy supplier can claim to offer a perfect solution. Some may invest heavily in renewable technologies; others may offer clever ways to help you use less energy. There are many pieces of the puzzle that need to come together to reach net zero. At 100Green we just choose to avoid selling fossil fuels entirely – simple as that.

Have you ever had to make a business decision that challenged your ethical standpoint?

Of course. The challenges of being part of a complicated, growing and developing energy market may sometimes keep us awake at night – but equally, knowing we are playing an important part in the journey to net zero, is also what gets us up in the morning.

We will be the first to admit that the whole industry is still learning how to generate energy in the most planet-friendly way. We did, however, make a big decision back in 2013, as an already established ethical supplier of 100% renewable electricity.

We knew we had to ensure that our entry into the gas market reflected our green credentials - and whatever solution we did deliver, it needed to support the UK’s journey towards becoming less reliant on fossil fuels.

When we initially investigated the gas market, there were still trials taking place to integrate biomethane into the national gas grid. So, we waited patiently until the injection of green gas into the grid was a workable reality before entering the market with the UK’s first (and only) 100% green gas offering.

But even when you choose to only offer 100% green energy, there are still ethical decisions to be made such as the impact that constructing generation assets can have on our wildlife.

That’s why we also offer our EKO tariff; this is a premium green tariff where the energy is not only green by the UK’s regulation standards, but goes one step further, and offers customers energy, with independent verification, that it’s coming from the greenest possible sources.

The EKO tariff goes beyond fighting emissions and addresses other wider sustainability impacts as well. Whilst we all focus on climate change, it can be easy to forget that there are the other wider environmental effects of energy production that also need to be addressed.

So we teamed up with EKOenergy, an international ecolabel for renewable energy, backed by over 40 NGOs. They are a non-profit organisation that fights climate change, protects biodiversity and helps achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development goals.

So the electricity has to meet additional sustainability criteria such as locating generation assets away from migrating birds and safeguarding marine habitats and water flow taking into account fish migration. For gas they ensure 100% Green Gas is sourced from waste rather than from energy crops, so the production does not jeopardise food security or social justice.

To be approved for the EKO label generation must meet their strict environmental criteria.

You can find out more about EKO energy here

Where would you like to see 100Green in the next 5 years?

I think that’s a difficult one to answer; not seeking volume growth suggests a lack of ambition, but that’s so wrong. We have been in business for 23 years offering green alternatives to fossil fuels and we believe we have made huge progress around the edges of the bigger picture.

We think our ambition comes from trying to make ‘green’ mainstream and accessible to more and more people. As we currently put it ‘keeping life green and simple’.

The issue revolves around price and value. Green alternatives do cost more than their coal, gas and oil alternatives, but we are really only talking about a fair-trade takeaway cappuccino a week!

So we believe green offers better long-term value and fight against those that would cast the energy industry as a villain of the piece. Serious solutions only work if they are an investment, not a sacrifice.

We have grown organically refining our offering as technologies have allowed while remaining true to our values of accountability, transparency, and equity.

We have watched competitors come and go and we have witnessed some howlers along the way, but we believe a green future is not only the best future, but an economic and obtainable one too.

We are fond of quoting Sheikh Yamani

‘The Stone Age came to an end not for a lack of stones, and the Oil Age will end, but not for a lack of oil’.

We strongly believe we will find alternatives.

We have spent the last 20 years trying to be part of that solution, and will continue to be driven by that rather altruistic objective.