IEMA's first e-Briefing published

10th June 2011

Related Topics

Related tags

  • Reporting ,
  • Mitigation ,
  • Management/saving ,
  • Generation



Members can now download a helpful document, the first in a new series of online briefing notes, from IEMA's website and a new area on the environmentalist website.

As legislation, technology and environmental responsibilities continue to evolve, IEMA naturally recognises the need to update members through various media and useful materials.

As part of the Institute’s dedication to creating a sustainable future through the development of skills, knowledge and thought leadership, the new e-Briefing series is designed to provide a quick and easily accessible library of reference notes on new and changing areas of environmental management and assessment practice.

Sitting alongside the library will be relevant news items and links to other externally produced guidance and updates.

The first IEMA e-briefing focuses on green tariff electricity. Here, the environmentalist provides summaries of the sections on developing a business case and the key issues to consider.

The business case

Green tariffs are electricity supply contracts that allow domestic and commercial customers to associate their consumption with renewable generation and low-carbon solutions. They differ from normal or “brown” tariffs, which reflect the supplier’s overall fuel mix.

Fuel mixes vary between suppliers but in the UK they are generally dominated by coal, gas and nuclear, with renewable forming a minor part – around 5% to 10% for most of the major suppliers.

There are a number of factors for businesses to consider when deciding whether to purchase a green tariff.

Green tariffs are not equivalent to carbon or greenhouse-gas (GHG) reductions within the business and therefore should not be used in place of energy-efficiency measures. For this reason they are not useable in relation to the Carbon Reduction Commitment Energy Efficiency scheme.

In order to reduce organisational GHG emissions, IEMA advocates a GHG management hierarchy.

When adopting the hierarchy, organisations should generally give priority to measures of avoidance and reduction – although it is noted that other worthwhile applications need not be delayed.

Within the UK’s framework, green tariffs are currently considered to carry emissions at the grid average rate and the carbon-saving aspect of green tariffs under green electricity certificates comes from carbon offsetting or green investment activities as a compensation measure in terms of GHG management.

What to consider

Potential questions to consider when deciding whether or not to switch from a traditional to a green tariff include the following:

  • How will the price per MWh change with the switch from the brown to green tariff and what will be the saving from avoiding the Climate Change Levy?
  • What will be the resulting overall change in electricity expenditure?
  • What will be the reportable emissions reduction from the tariff?
  • Will the associated benefits complement and support the company’s overall strategy and associated communication messages?

If not, then would an alternative compensation measure be more effective for your company, such as a direct purchase of high-quality carbon offsets, or an alternative project investment such as woodland creation? To find out more, visit IEMA's website.


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