How green is your power?
We explain green energy and how to sign up for it.
So you want to do the right thing and buy green energy? It sounds like a good idea, but how does it all work and where do you start?
You may have heard terms such as GreenPower and renewable power, and while they sound similar, they are actually quite different. GreenPower is a government initiative designed to give consumers the choice to pay for ‘green’ energy, while renewable energy is a term that covers the products that make that possible.
Renewables are on a roll. At the current rate of installation, both domestic and large scale, Australia is on track to generate 40 to 50 per cent of its energy requirements from renewables by 2025. As of December 2018, Australia was generating about 21 per cent of its energy requirements through renewables. This was the first time Australia has broken through the 20 per cent mark since the 1970s.
Renewable energy refers to any energy that is sourced from a renewable source regardless of when the generator was built and whether it participates in the GreenPower scheme. Typically the sources are sun, wind, water and biomass waste, which is a fancy term to cover burning organic materials to create electricity.
RACV senior product manager energy Kieran Davies says for consumers wishing to support renewable energy the easiest option by far is to pay for GreenPower through your electricity supplier.
“GreenPower, like rooftop solar, is one of the few ways customers can directly participate in renewable energy investment,” he says.
“Supporting this investment contributes to a sustainable power industry as well as financing projects and jobs building skills in the Victorian community.”
GreenPower is a national scheme that allows households and businesses to buy their energy from certified renewable sources which are added to the grid on their behalf.
When a customer chooses GreenPower their electricity retailer must buy a corresponding number of certificates from a new renewable energy generator that was commissioned from 1997 onwards and that meets strict environmental standards.
You can pay a set fee or a percentage of your bill, depending on your plan, but there’s a catch.
“GreenPower encourages investment in new renewable generation reducing Australia’s carbon footprint, but it costs a lot more than regular power, even if that power is sourced from a renewable source,” Kieran says.
And it pays to do your sums. Buying GreenPower may give you a warm inner glow but depending on the size of your bill or the amount you wish to pay for, it may make more sense to spend the money to upgrade to more energy-efficient appliances or install rooftop solar as the prices for these continue to fall.
And why is the price higher? Renewable energy costs more as large coal-burning power stations still have greater economies of scale, but as the technology involved in renewables develops the cost may come down.
Check out RACV’s interactive price-deal map for your suburb’s best energy deals, price trends and a snapshot of electricity prices in your area.