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What you need to know when switching to green electricity

Do you want to make the switch to green electricity? Then you'd better do your research today. Because there is such a thing as green power certificates, whereby grey power is sold as green. Read here what you need to know and how to choose the right supplier.

One important sustainable choice you can make as a consumer is to switch to green electricity. But what does that mean exactly and how can you be 100 per cent sure that your green electricity is really green? We looked it up for you.

Green power is energy generated from renewable sources. Examples are wind energy, solar energy or biomass. Although the green energy market is still in full swing, you have a lot of choices when it comes to green power. The most important thing is to be absolutely sure about which company is really green. Fortunately, there are organisations that check this for you, like Greenpeace does here. In order to help consumers make the right choice, they look for the origin of the green energy that is offered.

Can you feel the difference between green and grey power?

No, as a consumer nothing changes. You don't suddenly receive a different type of electricity at home or nothing needs to be changed in your electricity installation. Your energy supplier delivers electricity to the electricity grid, and based on the consumption of its customers, the amount of electricity varies.

How do I know where my electricity comes from?

Some energy suppliers do not have enough capacity themselves to generate green energy. In order to still be able to supply their customers with green energy, they buy it elsewhere, for example abroad. In the form of 'guarantees of origin', this third party shows where its electricity comes from.

Is green energy more expensive?

Green power and grey power do not differ in price. Nevertheless, it is more expensive for the producer to produce green power than grey power. In order to cover that price difference, energy producers are helped by governments through subsidies for green power products and guarantees of origin.

What is 'sham electricity'?

At the end of last year, energy platform Bolt, which promotes the purchase of local, green power, launched a campaign about 'sham power'. According to Bolt, 80 per cent of the green electricity on offer in Flanders does not originate in Flanders. Exactly the same problems are also occurring in the Netherlands. But what exactly is going on?

In practice, many energy suppliers buy 'guarantees of origin' or 'green certificates' from genuinely green suppliers abroad. You look for these suppliers abroad in countries such as Iceland, where all electricity is green and there are no nuclear power plants. Because they already have the full confidence of their own consumers, they sell their certificates to foreign partners at a bargain price. This gives non-sustainable players the chance to buy a competitive advantage without actually investing in it. In this way you, the consumer, are unfortunately deceived.

If you want to switch to green energy, be sure to check out the Belgian overview of Greenpeace or the Dutch overview of WISE.