The collapse of Bulb Energy this week follows a steady decline in its promises to customers.
Britain’s fastest-growing energy supplier set itself apart as a challenger to legacy energy giants by claiming to offer better service and energy that was cheaper and greener. But was Bulb as green as it claimed to be?
It promised to supply 100% renewable electricity to its customers and offset the carbon emissions of its gas. However, less than 5% of the green power it supplied to homes was sourced directly from renewable energy projects last year and it did not own any generating assets, such as wind or solar farms.
The rest was bought from the UK’s wholesale electricity market alongside “renewable energy certificates”, which have come under fire in recent years for allowing companies to “greenwash” their energy tariffs.
These certificates are issued to renewable energy projects for every megawatt-hour of clean power they generate, but a loophole means they can be sold separately from the green electricity itself. This means suppliers can use the cheap certificates to market their tariffs as 100% renewable without ever supporting clean energy.
The energy regulator has set out plans to clamp down on so-called “pale green” energy tariffs. And a government review, launched three months ago, plans to take aim at companies that claim to sell renewable energy without buying directly from renewable energy projects or investing in green schemes.
It may have spelled trouble for Bulb’s marketing campaign and proved to be one more issue for the firm’s beleaguered bosses.