Bulb's renewable energy

Hello Money Saving Expert members – how are you today?

As you will have heard from MSE, Bulb have been selected as the cheapest fixed green tariff in its Feb 2016 Big Switch. That means that for those of you who make the switch, we’ll be your new energy supplier. I know what you’re thinking and we’re pretty excited about it too. You might not have heard much about Bulb, so this is our chance to put you into the loop.

Bulb was born in 2014. Not only is our electricity 100% renewable (something only two other suppliers can claim), we also provide 10% renewable gas. And this doesn’t even count all the trees we’ve planted for our members.

We’re also low cost and have market leading service. This winter so far we have reduced our prices twice in order to pass on savings from lower wholesale energy costs. We also have the highest rated service on the independent review site Trustpilot.

We know you’ll have some questions, so we’ve pulled together some information about our green credentials for you:

Our 100% renewable electricity

Every electron that we put into the grid is sourced renewably. Right now, most of our electricity comes from ‘run of river’ hydro plants. For example, Llyn Brenig in Wales. As more members join us, we'll support more and more independent renewable generators.

Ofgem certification
All renewable electricity comes with an Ofgem issued Renewables Obligation Certificate. This means that you can be sure that the electricity you’re using in your home is 100% renewable. At the time of writing, around 20% of UK electricity comes from renewable sources, so you’re massively reducing your carbon footprint by joining Bulb.

Our green gas

We have to say, we're pretty proud that at least 10% of our gas comes from renewable sources, which is 100 times higher than the national average of 0.1%. We've partnered with anaerobic digesters to generate our green gas from the waste slurry of piggeries in Oxfordshire. We'll continue working with more green gas producers to keep increasing our green gas proportions and supporting this exciting new technology.

What is green gas?
Green gas, or biomethane, is methane that naturally occurs through decomposition of organic matter. When bacteria break down plant material, sewage and organic waste this releases methane. This methane can be captured, refined and fed into the gas grid. Biomethane is carbon neutral, meaning there is no net release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. In other words, it does not contribute to an increase in global warming. You can read more about the environmental benefits of biomethane on biomethane.org.

Certification
All of the biomethane that we source is certified by the Green Gas Certification Scheme. This ensures that our green gas is tracked from production to end use, and is indeed renewable. All of this gas comes with a Renewable Gas Guarantee of Origin certificate which lets us prove our fuel mix.

Trees make the world a better place

We want to make choosing clean energy an easy decision. We keep our prices low and provide industry leading service, but we want to do even more to make it a complete no-brainer...

We think trees simply make the world a better place which is why we’re donating to The Tree Council for every member that joined us through the February 2016 MSE Collective Switch.

Supporting The Tree Council
We’re working with The Tree Council (registered charity number 279000) to plant trees in places where people live, work, study and spend their leisure time across the UK. We will donate £10 for each dual fuel member, £5 for electricity only members. The Tree Council use donations in a variety of different ways but a £10 donation could provide 10 little trees for little hands to plant. This means that 10 new Bulb members would donate enough for a green oasis in a school. We wouldn’t be able to do this without you joining us, so thanks for making this happen. You can read more about The Tree Council here.

So, why trees?
Not only are they great for the environment, we think that trees just make the world a better place, a sentiment that we share with The Tree Council. We believe that trees play a key part in our well being and enjoyment of life. This isn’t just wishful thinking. For example, Scientific American reported a study where patients who had a view looking out on leafy trees “healed, on average, a day faster, needed significantly less pain medication and had fewer post-surgical complications than patients who instead saw a brick wall.” That’s a really cool finding and we want to bring the same benefits to people all over the UK. To quote the architect Richard Rogers, “everyone should be able to see a tree from their nearest window.”

We hope that clears everything up, but if you have any questions about anything then fire away. Our member community means that we’re all ears and you can talk to us however and whenever you like.

All the best,
Team Bulb

hello@bulb.co.uk
Tel: 0300 30 30 635

Wow the tree medication sounds interesting, I am looking at all the trees round us ( we live in a rural area) hoping it might ease my headache but it hasn’t worked maybe I will pop a couple of paracetamol down I suspect that might are more productive in this case :slight_smile:
I love these scientific facts do keep posting things like this, I will have a look at the biome thane and aerobic digesters information as well.

Treatment of around 10,000 tonnes of pig slurry annually. This pig slurry, produced at a local piggery, is currently spread in its raw form onto the local farmland as a fertiliser, which can result in odour problems from time to time. By processing the slurry through the digesters, not only will the methane be extracted (and methane is one of the single largest contributors to our greenhouse gas emissions), but the resulting digestate will have been substantially de-odourised, meaning that when spread onto the fields, the smell will be almost completely absent.

Just taken this from the link in the above, the one extra thing that must be such a positive is the de-odourising, sometimes the smell from the fields surrounding us is so bad it takes your breath away and often its not ploughed in quite as quickly as it should be.

I received an email today from Ecotricity trying to get me to join them with their claim to supply “Britain’s Greenest Energy”. They make a couple of statements that I think Bulb need to challenge:
“the electricity we supply is the greenest of any company in Britain, by some way.” - This heads a table showing the green percentage of electricity from most providers - but not including Bulb!
“we’re the only company supplying green gas in Britain” - again, no mention of Bulb.
One statement they make, however, I do find interesting: “all of the Green Gas we supply comes with our Frack Free Promise”. Well, if it’s green gas it doesn’t need a “frack-free promise”! But how about a statement about fracking and fossil gas? Can Bulb say anything about this?

@renewab

Great shout. We’ll take a look at what Ecotricity is saying and let them know about the error of their ways.

We’re definitely not fans of fracking. None of our energy comes from fracking sources, we won’t ever buy fracked gas and we’ll continue to increase the proportion of our energy that comes from green sources.

We’ll write up a post about fracking and get it up asap. I’ll ping you in it so you can take a look too.

Hi @renewab thanks so much for joining the community and what a great first post too.

@Amit and I are preparing this fracking post and share it with you today.

I take it renewable energy is something you’re pretty interested in. Green gas is something that we feel is very important. Are there any other renewable projects that we could be working on that you think are important? How about solar panel feed in tariffs, or helping people reduce their energy usage?

I joined Bulb primarily because of its green commitment; prices are very attractive too, but not of over-riding importance. I had intended to go to Woodland Trust Energy, but it fizzled out! So Bulb had taken its place as the best (maybe only?) real contender, and here I am.
So yes, any info concerning renewable progress and innovation would be welcome. And discussions on these topics invaluable - suitable for promotion via twitter/fb?

@renewab

Great to hear. How about articles like this one? Is this the sort of thing you’d share?

Hi @hayden

... Are there any other renewable projects that we could be working on that you think are important? How about solar panel feed in tariffs, or helping people reduce their energy usage?

A big thumbs up to solar panel feed in tariffs and helping people reduce energy usage.

Also, how about for every retail/food business that signs up you install an electric car charging point on their site?
Ones like the Ecotricity fast chargers that are in motorway service stations now. They are great, but these fast chargers need to be everywhere - cinemas, shopping centres, restaurants, pubs… I am sure the cost would be offset by the advertising - you’d have a permanent billboard on-site! There is a particular need the further north you go, and on A roads where there aren’t service stations.

Mary.

That’s a really interesting idea! We’ve been thinking of ways that we could make it more attractive to sign up for businesses, especially ones that are interested in being greener. Offsetting the cost of EV charging ports with advertising like this is really savvy.

This sounds like a pretty big project and it’ll take a lot of elbow grease and time to make a move on, but definitely one to look into. Great idea @maryrcrumpton. Thank you!

Hi @hayden
... Are there any other renewable projects that we could be working on that you think are important? How about solar panel feed in tariffs, or helping people reduce their energy usage?

A big thumbs up to solar panel feed in tariffs and helping people reduce energy usage.

Also, how about for every retail/food business that signs up you install an electric car charging point on their site?
Ones like the Ecotricity fast chargers that are in motorway service stations now. They are great, but these fast chargers need to be everywhere - cinemas, shopping centres, restaurants, pubs… I am sure the cost would be offset by the advertising - you’d have a permanent billboard on-site! There is a particular need the further north you go, and on A roads where there aren’t service stations.

Mary.

Hey @maryrcrumpton - first of all, it’s good to see you here, welcome to Bulb!

I love your idea of supplying an electric car charging point on their site for every sign up from a retail or food business, it certainly is a fantastic idea and something I’m sure the guys will be interested into looking at. It looks like you’ve touched on something I was going to mention though, it might be a little expensive to install those little charging points and to supply the electric (I’m not 100% sure how they work, so don’t quote me on that!), but it sure would be an awesome way of advertising, that’s for sure.

Awesome thinking Mary, I like it!

Hi @hayden , @will , and @mitchell ,

Well, I was thinking that the businesses themselves would be covering the cost of the electricity used by cars plugging in - a perk to their customers that honestly will cost them very very little as a percentage of their overall business energy costs, and will attract more custom their way, and be good PR for them. So, bulb would just need to cover the installation costs.

There are basically 3 different types of points.
We have a Nissan Leaf electric car, which has a 24kWh battery, so I will use that as an example of how they are used.

Your standard 3 pin socket at home will give you 2kW single phase, so it takes up to 12 hours to charge our Leaf (if we have completely drained it, which we never do). You could just pay for an external socket for the business, but to be honest, that won’t attract many EV drivers as it is too slow unless you are staying overnight, so I would ignore this option.

Elektromotive (www.elektromotive.com) will do charging points for you, that can supply 7kW single phase, so take about 3 hours to fully charge an empty Leaf. Not a bad option, but only really good at somewhere like a cinema or theatre where you know someone will be there for a minimum of 2-3 hours. Better than nothing though. And considerably cheaper than rapid chargers (see below).

To my mind, the best option (though the most expensive to install) are the rapid chargers. The Ecotricity ones (they call them “fast chargers”) at motorway service stations are about 45kWh three-phase I think. For us, it means that we can charge up to 80% full in about half an hour (it trickle charges once it gets to 80% full), which is about the length of time it takes to drink a hot chocolate and use the loo. Alternatively we just have a quick 10 minute top-up to give us a chunk extra. You can get similar rapid charging points via a firm called Charge Your Car (www.chargeyourcar.org.uk). They list accredited manufacturers on their website here: www.chargeyourcar.org.uk/charge-point-owner/faqs

These are a bit of an investment (I guess £15,000 but I have no idea if that is an accurate figure) - but it is worth comparing that cost with the cost of a 24-7 billboard advertisment - adverts cost LOTS in areas with high footfall / traffic. If you were to install fast chargers in the car parks of pubs/restaurants/hotels/non-motorway services, etc then loads of people would see them - customers as well as people plugging in - charging points tend to be near the front door (I guess in case the driver is disabled? or perhaps it’s just easier to get the electric there) so in areas of high footfall. And once you have installed it, it’d be there for a very long time, so you are paying a large sum upfront for the benefit of many years prime location advertising (and feeling good about having done something awesome). And of course, many of the people plugging in to it are your target market - people who care about their electricity being renewable - so it is targeted advertising. And as I am sure you appreciate, advertising that reaches your target market directly is incredibly expensive.

Mary x

PS you said you liked essays, right? :wink:

Hey @maryrcrumpton,

Excellent analysis. It’s especially useful to have even rough ideas of the costs, so thanks for pulling that together!

You’ve thought it through and come up with some excellent options. This is definitely something that we’ll look into at the very least. We’re genuinely really impressed by this. It’s a super smart way to encourage EVs, promote Bulb and get more people using renewables. Did we tell you that @amit is planning on getting on getting an electric car too? He’s going to paint it Bulb pink!

We’ll definitely look into it. To add some sort of level of expectations to this, because it’s going to be such a big project it will have to go on the back burner a bit while we work on projects that we have pegged as our highest priority, like smart meters and energy monitors. We’ll keep you in the loop about how it goes when we do look into it.

PS: Love essays :slight_smile:

Hey @renewab

Amit’s just posted an in depth post on our position on fracking. We said we’d post this last week, but it took a bit longer to pull together. Here it is now though

Hope you find it interesting

Hi @will, thanks for that - well worth the wait. Thoroughness is worth so much more than an off-the-cuff reactive response. Really interested in how the thread is developing.
Keep it up and thanks again…

Great stuff, glad you found it useful @renewab.

If there’s anything else like this that comes to mind, just shout.

Did we tell you that @amit is planning on getting on getting an electric car too? He's going to paint it Bulb pink!

Vroom vroom.

Hi @hayden , yes, I realise it will need some research and costing etc, and take a while - shout if you need a hand :wink:

And @amit , what sort of EV are you thinking of buying? I can strongly recommend the Nissan Leaf - we love it. It has enough real world range for most trips, and with the motorway chargers the sky is the limit! We regularly do Manchester to London and back in it visiting relatives. Still need more charging points out there, but there are enough to get by - just have to plan your journey a little bit. If you have cause to be in Manchester you should drop in and take ours for a spin and see what you think.

Mary x

Thanks for the offer @maryrcrumpton, if I’m in Manchester i’ll take you up on that! And thanks alot for the numbers too, having rapid EV chargers is something we’d love to do in the future.

Am strongly considering the Nissan leaf. One hurdle to overcome first is that I live in a flat and don’t have a garage. There aren’t a huge number of charging stations in the borough I live in so I’m planning on speaking to the council to get one installed on our street. Is this something you’ve looked into before?

We regularly use the car to drive to Gloucester and back (112 miles) so that is within the Nissan Leaf range. Are there any other EVs that you’d suggest with a longer range but not in the same price bracket as Tesla/ BMW?

Amit

Hi @amit ,

Our council have installed chargers on a few residential streets already, so asking them to do it is not something I have had to look into. We live in a terraced house, so don’t have a garage either, but we just run an extension lead out across the pavement, with a brightly coloured mat over it so no-one falls over it. If you can put the car close enough to the flat to run a lead out from somewhere you’d be sorted, but there are probably other options too.

Check out zap map for where all the various chargers near you are. Or if you have a Nissan garage near you you can charge a leaf there for free.

As for range, I think anything with a noticeably bigger range than a leaf will be much more expensive. And really there is no need. To do the 112 miles you might need one quick top-up charging stop, unless you crawl along, but a 15 min stop while you use the loo and grab a drink is really no hassle at all. The charging at motorway services is free.
(Not sure if it is the services or ecotricity that pays for the electricity now I come to think about it - hope we get bulb charging points soon :wink: )

Mary x