British Gas’s new green tariff leads market

British Gas has become the UK’s leading “green energy” supplier after launching a new “zero-carbon” tariff. But it remains to be seen how many people will sign up as it carries an £84 premium.

The tariff’s main advantage over others is that it retires renewable obligation certificates (ROCs).

Retiring ROCs is the only way a tariff can encourage the development of renewables beyond government targets. If an energy supplier does not retire them, it will simply be repackaging its legal duty to supply green electricity (ENDS Report 384, p 11 ).

British Gas will retire 12% of ROCs above its legal obligation for each customer to sign up. This is a significant improvement on others: Scottish and Southern’s RSPB tariff retires 10% and Good Energy 5%.

Under the tariff, British Gas will also offset all CO2 emissions associated with the customer’s energy use. To do this, it will only buy certified credits, such as those generated under the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism.

British Gas also launched a second tariff in July called “future energy” which does not retire any ROCs. Instead it carries a £20 premium that will be invested into a ”green fund” and used to develop renewable energy projects.

British Gas estimates “over ten thousand” people will sign up to the tariffs, although it would not provide a breakdown for each scheme.