Keeping life green and simple
100Green CEO, Doug Stewart, talks candidly about the 100% green gas challenge
I’m often asked this question, and I say that we only got into gas because our customers suggested we did so.
They told us electricity is an expensive option for space heating and that they were buying and using gas whether we supplied it or not – but they’d like to buy it from us instead of their existing supplier.
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 delivered, it supported the UK’s journey towards becoming less reliant on fossil fuels.
At the time (2013), 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.
Alternatives to gas are being sought. There has been much mention of hydrogen following the Government’s 10-point plan announcement, and air source heat pumps (ASHP) are another viable, if currently expensive, alternative.
The issue with both is finding a nationwide force of engineers to undertake a migration from gas to either hydrogen or ASHPs. The industry has faced a similar challenge with the smart meter roll out, and one hopes the lessons learned there will serve to make another transition smoother and timelier.
Our decision to offer 100% green gas (rather than the other alternatives) was the result of us recognising the following:
1. Green gas is an interim solution that helps fight climate change right now.
2. As a nation, we need to find an alternative to natural gas.
There were other green gas products out there; some offered a percentage of green gas and then carbon offset the rest. But our company ethos and experience of such carbon offsetting schemes meant they weren’t for us.
So, quite simply we offered 100% green gas- biomethane!
Although a short-term solution, the green gas we buy is derived through a process called Anaerobic Digestion from number of certificated sources including manure and waste products. These would have traditionally gone to landfill and emitted methane, a greenhouse gas 21 times more toxic that CO2.
Society has to deal with its 21st century challenges and in terms of context we believe Anaerobic Digestion is an appropriate process and the recycling benefits of the waste are considerable.
Within the criteria for our EKO tariff, there is a stipulation that the waste used has already been created. Avoid energy crops, when there are feed stocks that already exist and present a disposal issue, is an approach we support.
Green gas is exactly what it says it is; gas generated from green sources as opposed to fossil fuels.
But as a society, we do have to face up to the waste issue per se; we are an ethical supplier, and as such, we try to do something good with waste but as 21st century citizens we all generate massive amounts, (perhaps more an effluent society than an affluent one). And it all has to go somewhere.
People used to refer to throwing things ‘away’ – but there is no ‘away’ as evidenced by the plastic ‘Islands’ in our oceans. If utilising waste to generate biomethane offers the opportunity to highlight other areas of concern and encourage our staff and our customers to reduce their consumption of single use plastics for instance, then that can only be a good thing!
The scaling up of the substitutes to gas will take time and science so Green Gas has a true purpose.
But considering the alternatives such as replacing gas with hydrogen - there is also the ‘stranded asset’ issue of replacing recently installed boilers to consider. There are clear financial cost implications there - and another waste issue to avoid!
As we wait for a fusion breakthrough, there is no perfect solution as the UK transitions to building greater reliance on energy from green and renewable sources. And as with all change, it is often slower than many of us would want or need, which makes green gas as an interim solution, all the more attractive.
It is a green solution, has a true purpose, and is available now.
There are really only two ways of reducing your carbon usage; Find ways of using less of it and implement that change to reduce consumption. Or don’t use it at all! The greenest energy is always going to be the energy we don’t use.
But of course, our lives are intertwined with energy usage so there must be a strategic step forward in sustainable energy provision.
Change must be encouraged from the centre - which often means government. A voluntary sector can push the needle but with the might of the state behind a programme, the results can come quicker.
Absolutely - when we launched our 100% green gas product, we were the first and only supplier to do so. And we still are. Small steps do matter – and it’s still important to us that our customers know why we do what we do and how we do it.
The world and the UK in particular have come a long way on their green journey since we started out in 2001. We set out to make a small difference, by offering a chance to play a part in reducing ‘global warming’ (as it was referred to back then!)
Over two decades later – we’re still 100% committed to offering all our customers a greener future and delivering great customer service.
Helping to keep their lives green and simple.
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