Green electricity for business

One of the simplest ways to reduce your business emissions is to switch to a renewable electricity supply, or ‘green tariff’. Alongside implementing energy efficiency measures, purchasing renewable power should form an integral part of any business CSR policy or ‘green’ strategy.

Your electricity ‘profile’

Every property has a profile class, whether it is a domestic or commercial. The profile class will provide the electricity supplier with an understanding of expected consumption pattern for each supplied property; they can also provide an idea of any seasonal variations in usage.

There are nine different profile classes:

  • Profile Classes 1 and 2 are for domestic premises
  • Profile Classes 3 and 4 are for non-domestic premises
  • Profile Classes 5 to 8 are non-domestic premises with maximum demand (MD) metering
  • Profile Class 00 is for non-domestic sites with half hourly metering

It is important to know what your profile class is if you are a business because it will affect the type of electricity contract you enter into for your electricity supply.

If your profile class is 5 to 8, or 00, you need to a quote for your situation. Some suppliers offer renewable electricity tariffs that should be exempt from the Climate Change Levy. Businesses on these tariffs don’t have to pay CCL on their electricity bill, so it is worth checking their policy on this.

Choosing a green electricity supply

With so many different ‘green’ electricity tariffs on the market, it can be hard to sort out the genuinely green from the greenwash. One important measure of greenness is fuel mix, as it demonstrates an energy supplier’s overall commitment to renewables. The average proportion of renewable electricity supplied in the UK is 7.9% (in 2010-11). Some utility providers supply less than that, some do much better. Latest available fuel mix figures can be viewed at Other things to consider are whether the tariff contributes to a renewables fund or includes carbon offset.

Reporting your carbon emissions

Currently, reporting carbon emissions for most businesses is voluntary. But if you are looking to reduce your emissions, obviously identifying how much you are emitting and from what sources is a crucial first step.

However, for very large businesses, the Government’s CRC (formerly the Carbon Reduction Commitment) energy efficiency scheme requires mandatory emissions reporting. This applies to all businesses which have a half hourly meter installed in at least one of their premises, and which use over 6,000MWh a year. And the Government is currently consulting on making emissions reporting mandatory for all businesses, with a decision expected by April 2012.

One problem with the current system is that businesses which do report their emissions have to calculate the electricity they purchase based on a ‘Grid-Average’ emission factor (of 0.545gCO2 for every kWh they purchase) even if they are signed-up to a 100 percent renewable tariff or even generate their own renewable power on site.

Green Electricity Marketplace (GEM) no longer accepts referral fees from electricity suppliers. It is not associated with any general switching site and is committed to promoting renewable electricity through the provision of information and independent assessment of Green electricity tariffs.

We aim to provide accurate and up-to-date pricing, but given the volatility of the electricity market, please confirm current pricing with your chosen supplier.

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