Every year, energy suppliers are required to report to Ofgem, the energy regulator, on their electricity fuel mix. This helps people to understand where their supplier’s electricity comes from. Suppliers aren’t required to report in the same way on the gas they provide, but we think it’s important for members to know where their gas comes from too.
We know there’s a lot going in the world right now, and our number one priority is taking care of our members and our team. But being open with our members is one of our core values, so we wanted to keep you updated.
100% carbon neutral gas through carbon offsets and green gas
Over the past year (April 2019-March 2020) we provided 100% carbon neutral gas to all our members. We offset the emissions from most of the gas we supplied by working with our partner ClimateCare to support carbon-reduction projects around the world. On top of this, 4% of the gas we supplied was green gas produced from renewable sources like food or farm waste, down from 10% the year before.
Cutting carbon emissions across the globe
Since March 2019 we’ve been working with ClimateCare to offset the emissions from the non-renewable gas we supply. Carbon offsetting is an internationally recognised way to balance your carbon impact.
Since then, we’ve offset more than 3 million tonnes of carbon emissions. We’ve achieved this through carbon-reduction projects around the world including rainforest protection in Sierra Leone, green energy in India and China, and clean cookstoves in Ghana and Kenya. Each project has an impact that goes beyond reducing CO2. We’ve helped protect 13,380 hectares of rainforest, saved families £6.5 million on cooking fuel, and reduced air pollution for 518,000 people, too. And that’s just year one. You can read more about offsetting in our help centre.
Bulb is the biggest buyer of green gas for homes in the UK
When Bulb launched back in 2015, we bought less than 1% of the green gas available in the market. From April 2019-March 2020, we bought more than 20% of all available green gas, making us the largest buyer of domestic green gas in the UK.
We’re happy to be providing so much value to green gas generators. Since Bulb began, we’ve bought a whopping 1,903,833 MWh of green gas on behalf of our members.
Growing faster than green gas
While we’re buying a lot of green gas on behalf of our members, Bulb is growing faster than new green gas plants are being built. The proportion of our carbon neutral gas that comes from renewable sources is coming down. Last year, from April 2018-March 2019, we secured enough green gas to make up 10% of our total supply to members. This financial year – with 1.7 million members now on board – it’s 4%.
Green gas makes up a small part of the gas available in the energy market. Today, there is enough green gas around to meet just 1% of the UK’s total demand. And new generation plants aren’t being built quickly enough. That’s because generators rely on a government subsidy for around 80% of their revenue. This funding - the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) - is due to end in March 2021. Without clarity from the government on what will happen after this, there’s little incentive to build new green gas plants in the UK.
This isn’t true of all renewable generation. While green gas is struggling to grow, renewable electricity generation in the UK has grown by 10% since Bulb launched.
Going further to reach Net Zero
We want to help people lower their carbon emissions. Providing 100% carbon neutral gas is an important part of that, and we’ll continue to meet that commitment with a mixture of green gas and carbon offsets.
While offsetting is a useful, immediate way we’re able to reduce the carbon impact of Bulb’s community, we know it isn’t a silver bullet. Long term, we need to find a way to ‘decarbonise heat’. Cutting CO2 emissions caused by the gas we use to heat our homes will play a big part in achieving Net Zero, which the UK has committed to reaching by 2050. Just like anything worth doing, this is a challenge. And so far, there is no agreement on the best way to do it. We’ll need to work together with other suppliers, innovators and the Government to get there.
We plan to play an active role in this conversation, while searching for new ways to green up our gas offering. To start with, we’ll continue to ask the Government to extend or replace the subsidy for green gas generators to secure a future for renewable gas in the UK’s fuel mix. We were pleased to see talk of a green gas levy in the recent budget announcement, but can expect initiatives like this to be on hold until the outlook for the economy is more certain after coronavirus (COVID-19). We’ll be keeping an eye on that. We’re also looking into other ways to green up the gas we supply, like producing clean hydrogen from water to feed into the gas grid. We’ll keep members informed about our progress on the blog.