The ‘how green is it to supply gas’ debate kicked off here last week, in response to some questions we asked of our customers. Actually we had over 1400 responses and overwhelming support in principle. And a lively debate followed, it even had our friends at Treehugger joining in…
I couldn’t say much last week except we had something I thought was pretty exciting to unveil in a few days time. Well here it is now.
Today we’re launching Green Gas.
What’s it all about?
For a number of years we’ve been meaning to offer gas to our customers, partly because so many people use it (it’s a matter of pragmatism) and partly because we thought our customers would rather pay their gas bills to Ecotricity – and see us use that revenue to bring about some environmental gain – than pay the Big Six.
We also thought that it would give us an opportunity to engage our customers in a debate about gas and our need to wean ourselves off it – since it’s running out soon enough.
We thought we’d use the revenue to plant trees or plant more windmills, for a green outcome – the one thing we definitely were not going to do though was to ‘carbon offset’.
Up until recently we’d had bigger issues to wrestle with on the electricity front – basically getting the systems in place to ensure good accurate billing on time and so on – getting it right in electricity, before seriously looking to add gas.
We’ve been running those new systems now for over a year and we’ve achieved an enormous transformation in all areas.
And so we thought it time to look into gas once more. And we found something very exciting had become possible – the production of gas from renewable sources and its injection into the gas grid. Nobody is doing it in the UK yet, but it has started in other parts of the world – to be clear I mean the grid injection part – making biogas is not so new of course.
It’s now possible to offer actual Green Gas – renewable gas. Not just gas with some kind of bolt on outcome.
And it fits perfectly with our green electricity model – we can take gas bills and turn them into Gasmills. As we do electricity bills into Windmills.
And that’s our plan, to start supplying gas to our customers and to invest the revenue from those bills into the building of Gasmills – changing our fuel mix over time (from Brown to Green) as we do with electricity.
We’ll publish an annual Fuel Mix Disclosure for our gas (known in the industry as FMD), there’s no legislation for that, it just makes sense.
This is the UK’s first Green Gas initiative (it won’t be the last though – we’re sure of that)
And truly Eco Dual Fuel has arrived.
There’s an exciting big picture to all of this.
The UK has the potential to make 50% of it’s own gas needs from this process – Anaerobic Digestion (AD). We could aim to provide the other 50% through demand reduction, energy efficiency measures and the use of renewable heat sources like solar thermal. And that gives us the opportunity for, and the vision of, a Britain that’s Gas Independent in the future.
The North Sea supplies run out in about 20 years, we already import 50% or so of our gas from some pretty unstable parts of the world – the answer is to make our own.
We’re going to throw our weight into this.
Some stats if you’re interested.
Making 50% of the UK’s gas from AD would take about 1200 large Gasmills and an investment of about £35 Billion.
For Ecotricity to achieve a 50% FMD in self made green gas, as we have in green electricity – would take an investment of about £50 Million.
And spookily enough that’s what we’ve spent so far, getting to (almost) 50% self built green electricity – about £50 Million.
I’m truly, massively excited about the prospects for this, it’s a real viable solution to a problem that otherwise just didn’t seem to have one.
Ecotricity is in the process of evolving into a green energy company (from a green electricity company) – with gas and electricity both going from brown to green.
It feels like we’ve been a one legged football player, up until now. We had half the moves. Now we have the whole.
Oh, nearly forgot to mention, we’re going to price match dear old British Gas and match their dual fuel discount. Continuing our philosophy of ‘green for the price of brown’.
If you’re interested in having Green Gas – you can register for more information over on the Ecotricity site. There’s also a press release here and an Observer article here.