Ecotricity is the world’s first green energy company. Founded in 1996 with just a single windmill, it now supplies green gas and electricity to around 200,000 homes in the UK. What’s it offering on the market that makes Ecotricity so popular? Find out what that is and how to get a piece of the good green stuff.
Ecotricity and moved leaps and bounds since it launched its services on the energy market. Let's take a look at where it all began and the company they've become to this present day.
From its offer of green gas and electricity to its “vegan energy” movement, Ecotricity's success is directly proportional to its growing portfolio of green energy-generating infrastructure. We'll see how the two are tied together since it's inception up to 2018 that have made Ecotricity what it is today.
- 1995 - Ecotricity founder Dale Vince started his own energy company with a single windmill. His business model of ‘Embedded Supply’ used the local grid to match local customers with local generation sources. The energy market was just being liberalised for the first time.
- 1996 - Green electricity was delivered by Ecotricity to its first customer, the Cheltenham and Gloucester College, from landfill gas.
- 1997 - Dale Vince attended one of the world's first electric vehicle (EV) shows in Kyoto with the intention to buy one from Toyota. Although he didn’t purchase one, he launched plans to create Ecotricity's own wind-powered EV called The Nemesis.
- 1998 - Ecotricity teamed up with Thames Water in a revolutionary joint venture to produce and supply renewable electricity. This took Ecotricity’s turnover to £50M a year.
- 1999 - Ecotricity set up its second windmill at the Ecotech Centre in Norfolk (now The Green Britain Centre). It generated three times the power output compared to the average windmill.
- 2000 - Chosen as the sole energy supplier to London’s Millennium Dome, Ecotricity sourced green electricity from the Thames’ sewage sites. Interest among retailers in Ecotricity grew sporadically. A third windmill was set up.
- 2001 - Sainsbury’s had its very own on-site turbine set up by Ecotricity at the supermarket’s distribution depot in East Kilbride, Scotland. It was the first innovative Merchant Wind Power project that brought wind energy directly to big consumers.
- 2002 - The first ever windmills at Mablethorpe in Lincolnshire were built by Ecotricity. Over 1,000 homes received electricity from wind energy.
- 2003 - Over 3,000 homes across the UK were now being powered by Ecotricity. It built another wind turbine in Swaffham.
- 2004 - Founder, Dale Vince, was awarded an OBE for services to the environment. Eight new turbines were built in Lincolnshire. It set up two big windmills to power Ford in Dagenham. By the end of the year, it was powering nearly 8,000 homes in the UK.
- 2005 - Ecotricity created its third Merchant Wind Power project at Green Park in Reading, located on junction 11 of the M4. Its customer base grew to over 13,000 by the end of the year.
- 2006 - Powering nearly 23,000 houses with Green Electricity, Ecotricity built eight more windmills in Lincolnshire and two more turbines in Dundee. They were used to power Michelin’s tire factory.
- 2007 - Ecotricity built three turbines to power Bristol Port Company at Avonmouth Docks. Ecotricity was awarded the World’s Leading Green Energy Prize at the Ashden Awards, presented by Al Gore.
- 2008 - The global recession hit, but Ecotricity doubled its fleet of green generators while it began work on its electric supercar, the Nemesis.
- 2009 - The number of homes supplied with green energy by Ecotricity grew to around 35,000.
- 2010 - Ecotricity launched its first 100% Green Gas tariff. It also launched its ecobonds, used to fund green energy projects and share the financial beneFiTs with its customers. Its customer base grew to 45,000 people.
- 2011 - The supplier launched its Electric Highway; the UK’s first motorway network of charging points for electric vehicles, located at Welcome Break service stations. In the same year, it also launched Britain’s first solar park.
- 2012 - Ecotricity’s electric supercar the Nemesis broke the British land speed record for an electric vehicle, having reached an impressive 151 mph.
- 2013 - The company launched a 100% green electricity tariff for all its customers. Green Electricity was the name of its third tariff.
- 2014 - Supplying over 150,000 customers, Ecotricity continued to provide the best customer service in the industry, coming top in the Which? Best Energy Company survey. It installed four new windmills at Galsworthy in Devon.
- 2015 - Ecotricity revealed its intentions to build green gas mills in Britain, where it would produce renewable gas from grass.
- 2016 - The company finished its new wind park at Dalby, Leicestershire, set to power over 5000 homes every year.
- 2017 - Ecotricity was awarded the World's Best Green Energy Brand at the global Energy Branding Conference. The same year it set up new windmills at various company headquarters, including the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Kings Lynn.
- 2018 - Ecotalk was launched; Ecotricity’s green mobile phone service. It promised to invest its proFiTs from Ecotalk in new habitats for British wildlife.
To date, Ecotricity is one of the largest and most successful green energy providers in the UK. It’s also listed as one of Selectra’s top picks of renewable energy companies.
In the year to 30 April 2018, turnover at Ecotricity Group soared from £126.5m to a whopping £175.7m. This was helped by its strong trading performance as well as its superior wind volumes in its energy generating portfolio.
To date, it supplies 100% green electricity to over 200,000 customers across Britain. Ecotricity is opposed to fracking and the use of animals or animal by-products to produce energy. This is where it coined itself as Britain’s first supplier of vegan energy. Find out how vegans and non-vegan alike are rating Ecotricity by hitting the button below.
Shares and finance
Ecotricity is a not-for-dividend company. This means that instead of paying dividends, it prefers to reinvest all of its earnings back into the company to fund its new green-energy projects.
Ecotricity encourages customers to purchase ecobonds, enabling them to beneFiT financially from each new phase of their work. Ecobonds have raised almost £56m for the Ecotricity Group. If you’d like to invest in their Ecobonds, contact them here.
Ecotricity in the news
- Ecotricity’s response to ‘poor’ charging infrastructure (11 June 2019) - Difficulties were noted with recharging electric cars on long journeys using the UK’s vehicle charging network. Since Ecotricity owns a large proportion of the charging points, it received criticism from the Parliament’s business, energy and industrial strategy select committee. Ecotricity faced poor consumer reviews as a result.
- Launch of sustainable wrapping (22 May 2019) - London publishing house, Immediate Media, partnered up with Ecotricity to provide paper wrapping for BBC magazines. Their paper-based wrapping proved to be a completely recyclable product which could be thrown into recycling bins.
- Ecotricity declares climate emergency (20 May 2019) - The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) stated that it was necessary to enforce the UK’s target of zero emissions for 2050. This could mean the end of fossil fuels from then onwards. However, the high-profile protests in London, led by the Extinction Rebellion group, called for an earlier target of 2025. In response to the protests, Ecotricity’s founder Dale Vince publicly stated that his company would be on board to achieve this 2025 net-zero target, turning it into a carbon-neutral business.
- Ecotricity named as a ‘Company to Inspire Britain’ (10 May 2017) - The London Stock Exchange Group named Ecotricity as a Company to Inspire Britain’. Among the selection criteria fulfilled by Ecotricity which saw to its nomination not only included its growing revenue over the past four years, but also its success in outperforming its sector peers. Put into context, Ecotricity came out top compared to all other green energy suppliers in Britain.
What makes Ecotricity stand out from the crowd is its generation and supply of 100% green electricity and 14% green gas. These figures matter, as Ofgem is clamping down on other so-called “green suppliers” who are cheating their customers by misleading them in the purity of their sources.
Green electricity and gas
Green energy comes from natural sources such as wind, rain, sunlight, geothermal heat tides and plants. They're naturally replenished, which means they’re renewable. This is in sharp contrast to fossil fuels, such as coal or gas, which are finite resources that take millions of years to develop.
What’s the benefit?
Ecotricity’s mission is to make Britain greener. The beneFiTs of green energy in the developing worldare also evident, as it avoids an overdependence on our limited fossil fuels. This means less greenhouse gas emissions to pollute the planet. It also creates Ecotricity jobs in manufacturing, installation, and more sectors linked to the green energy market.
How does Ecotricity’s electricity compare to the national average?
|Fuel supply||Ecotricity||National average|
100% renewable energy simply can’t be better when assessing the proportion of renewable energy in their fuel mix, so we award Ecotricity 5/5 for its fuel mix.
Ecotricity's Fuel Mix Score: Selectra's verdict
Ecotricity is the only energy supplier generating its own vegan electricity, as recognised by The Vegan Society. This means that the electricity it generates doesn’t involve the use of animals or animal by-products. More specifically, its energy sources are not from anaerobic digestion (AD) nor biomass. As such, Ecotricity’s sources do not contain by-products of animal farming, such as slaughterhouse waste or animal slurry.
What’s the beneFiT?
Customers of vegan electricity get to cut their carbon footprint while supporting ethical energy production. They also get peace of mind knowing that the money they pay in energy bills does not support factory farming or the unethical treatment of animals.
Ecotricity publishes an Environmental Report every year to track the impact of its work and its own efforts to reduce its carbon footprint. This means that the public can track the company’s carbon emissions when supplying green energy to its customers.
Why does green authenticity matter in 2019?
Ecotricity offers green tariffs, but so do other suppliers. This is great news since green tariffs nicely complement the Government’s ambitions to make Britain the first major world economy to reduce its carbon footprint to zero by 2050. Ecotricity’s founder Dale Vince OBE announced that his company will get on board to help the government reach the ambitious “net zero” target.
All green tariffs are the same, right?
Wrong. Not all so-called “green tariffs” are actually green. According to recent reports, most providers of green tariffs derive little or no energy directly from renewable sources. They merely say they do and then charge a lot more money for it, even when their claims are false! This is known as "greenwashing". The practice, dubbed as a “scandal” by the media, consists of buying the right to label tariffs as 'green' through a complex certificated system.
How do you know if Ecotricity is legitimately green?
To curtail the abuse of green labels by suppliers, Ofgem published its 27-page Green Supply Guidelines which green suppliers must adhere to. In response, Ecotricity prepared its own short and simple pdf document. It aims to help consumers confirm quickly if a tariff is truly ‘green’.
Ecotricity clearly fits the guidelines, as 100% of its energy is generated by wind, water or the sun. This is why it is touted as the greenest energy company in Britain. For any queries on its green credential or on anything else for that matter, find out how to contact Ecotricity in our comprehensive contact guide by clicking the button below.
Activities and services
There are various unique activities and services by Green Star that marry very well with its green credentials. Let’s find out what “green love” they’re spreading to their customers.
Electric vehicles are one of the best ways to reduce climate change. Ecotricity advocates the use of EVs by allowing customers to power them with its 100% green electricity. This has led to it creating the Electric Highway, a collection of 300 EV charge points located at motorway service stations across the UK.
Where is it?
If you want to know where an Ecotricity charge point is located near you or is on your travel route, head to Routefinder. Their online tool helps you find the nearest charge point and directions to get there.
How do I charge my EV?
- Download the Electric Highway app here.
- Check the status of their electricity pumps using the app.
- Begin your charge session.
Green business energy
Businesses need a gas and electricity supply just as homes do. What do business customers get and why would you want to switch to Green Star if you run one? Find out why entrepreneurs are flocking to this green supplier.
What is green business energy?
Entrepreneurs can also go green when they choose to have their business premises supplied by Ecotricity. Business customers can choose their green tariff for small and medium-sized businesses, whilst Ecotricity also offers a bespoke tariff for large businesses. Find out here what category your company FiTs into.
What’s in it for my business?
Businesses beneFiT from getting their gas and electricity supply from Ecotricity in many ways.
- Speed: Get a quick and accurate answer to all your questions from their expert team of business account managers.
- Simplicity: No contract renewals. Just one simple tariff or fixed pricing.
- Green Credibility: Customers can tell their customers about their 100% green energy supply, as well as the new projects that their bills are contributing to. By shouting about it on social media channels, Ecotricity’s business customers can gain green-credibility among their own environmentally-conscious clients.
- Expertise in new meter connections: Get the latest smart meter technology for businesses. Includes free installation.
A smart meter is a device that automatically sends your meter readings directly to your energy supplier. So if you’re a customer with Ecotricity, you won’t need to call them every month to submit meter reads - they will receive them without you having to do a thing.
What’s in it for me?
- Accurate bills. You're only charged based on your business’ actual consumption. There’s no estimated billing at all.
- Monitor your team’s consumption. Are your staff members following good practice to reduce consumption in the workplace, or are they wasting energy unnecessarily? With a smart meter, you can track your team’s consumption. If it’s too high, get them to take measures to reduce it.
- Make your devices smart and working together. This will help your business cut costs, whether you run a retail shop, restaurant, hairdressers, or any other commercial business. You can do this by linking your smart devices together to talk to one another.
- Sell energy back to the grid and get paid. Your business’ energy generated by renewables can be stored and fed back into the National Grid whenever it’s needed. You’ll get paid for every unit of energy you sell back to it.
How do I get one?
Ecotricity is installing smart meters in stages because there’s an oversupply of SMETS 1 meters and an undersupply of SMETS 2 meters. This is how you can get a smart meter:
- Contact Ecotricity to register your interest for a smart meter.
- Ecotricity will arrange a suitable time to have it installed at your business premises. They will put you through to their meter operator, Magnum, who will contact you when installations are about to start in your business’ area.
- An engineer from Magnum will visit your business premises. They will safely remove your old meter and install a new smart meter. The engineer will talk you through how to use it.
Feed-in tariffs (FiT) reward energy users who generate their own renewable energy which is then sent back to the National Grid. This means that for all the green electricity you generate, you get a monthly payment injected into your business. Ecotricity calls their FiT scheme “Microtricity”.
Hasn’t the deadline already passed?
The FiT scheme stopped accepting new applications from 31 March 2019. That said, if your green-energy generating system had already been MCS certified and commissioned before 31 March 2019, then you can still apply for the FiT scheme until 31 March 2020. Find out more about this on the Ofgem website.
How much money can I make from FiT?
The rate of the payment you will receive for generating your own green energy will depend on many factors. Among them are the size of your renewable energy system, the technology used to install it and the energy efficiency of your home.
It may go up or down depending on the retail price index (RPI). To put this into context, this is the unit used to measure the general level of inflation as reflected in the retail price of a basket of green renewable energy.
How do I get on the FiT scheme?
- Choose how to generate your energy: Solar panels or windmill
- Find an installer that’s MSC certified.
- Install your renewable energy units.
- Sign up to Microtricity online.
Ecotricity’s energy tariffs
Ecotricity offers two tariffs for domestic customers, one for those with standard credit meters and another tariff for those with PAYG meters. There's only one rate for each tariff. They also have a separate tariff for business customers. Let's look at the two domestic tariffs and the remaining business tariff.
If you have a standard credit meter, your tariff with Ecotricity will be called "Green gas and electricity". While the name not may be very original, the beneFiTs certainly are. Let's take a look at what you can expect to receive.
Green gas and electricity
(1) Flat price
Ecotricity likes to keep it nice and simple, sothere’s only one rate for their Green Gas and Electricity tariff:
The standing charge is a fixed price charge that is added to your bill in order to cover the gas and electricity costs.
The unit rate refers to how much each kWh of gas or electricity will cost you.
(2) 100% green electricity and 14% green gas is supplied to your home. Its green gas comes with a frack-free promise. This means that they promise to not to use shale gas nor contribute in any way to hydraulic fracking. In fact, Ecotricity is active in its fight against fracking through its People Power Fund which offers financial support for the activists fighting fracking in the UK. Find out what all the controversy behind Fracking is about.
(3) Vegan energy. This means that the supply of electricity or gas you receive to your home every day does not involve the use of animals no animal by-products. You’ll rarely see vegan energy supplied by Ecotricity’s competitors because energy suppliers are under no obligation to declare whether or not animals are used in the production of energy.
(4) No contract + no exit fee. You’re not tied in to any long term contract with Ecotricity. This is much the opposite with the majority of energy suppliers in the UK. This gives you the freedom to keep an eye on the deals offered by its competitors and switch to another one without worrying about being penalised. Whether you’ve stayed with Ecotricity for one week or one month, you won’t pay an early exit fee for switching to another competitor.
Pay As You Go (PAYG)
A prepayment meter is a type of energy meter that you can have installed in your property. This is different from the standard credit meter with which payments for energy consumption are made by direct debit. Instead, you’ll be on a 'pay as you go' (PAYG) tariff. This means that you pay for your energy before you use it. You can money to it via a 'key' or ‘smart card’, which you would insert into the prepayment meter. These can be topped up at your local corner shop or via a smartphone app which you can download for free.
What’s so special about Ecotricity’s PAYG tariff?
You get the beneFiTs of budgeting for your energy needs while still getting the same 100% green electricity and 14% green gas. You also get the same frack-free promise offered to its other customers, without being tied into a long term contract. So if you want to retain your prepayment meter but just want to switch to another supplier, Ecotricity won’t charge you an early exit fee.
Smart PAYG meter
Ecotricity gives you the option of upgrading your standard PAYG meter to a Smart PAYG meter. Also known as “smart prepayment meter” or “smart prepaid meter”, you get to manage your energy and credit in a much easier way. BeneFiTs of Ecotricity’s Smart PAYG meter include:
- With this device, you can monitor how much gas and electricity you're using in real-time and how much it’s costing you in pounds and pence.
- Even if you’re out of the house, in the supermarketor just out and about, you can top up gas and electric credit online remotely at any time. You won’t even have to touch your prepayment meter to have it topped up.
- If you’re worried that your credit might run out overnight or during the weekend, Ecotricity offers friendly credit periods to its PAYG customers. That means they keep your supply on if it runs out at any of these inconvenient times.
- Even during the week when you’ll be outside of Ecotricity’s friendly credit period, you can still activate emergency credit directly from your Smart Energy Tracker. It’ll be topped up within 20 minutes.
Fully Charged Bundle
If you have an electric vehicle, Ecotricity’s Fully Charged Bundle is the tariff that saves you money on charging it up. You get a discounted rate for charging your vehicle at any charge point on Ecotricity’s Electric Highway.
What do I pay?
Instead of paying 30p per kWh to charge your EV, as an Ecotricity customer on the Fully Charge Bundle tariff, you pay just 15p per kWh when you use any Electric Highway charge point. On average, that’s a saving of 400 pounds a year than if you were paying the standard rate every time you charged up.
Where are Ecotricity’s EV charge points?
The green energy supplier has 300 EV charge points for you to choose from located at motorway service stations. You can find them on Ecotricity’s online Routefinder.
How do charge up to get my discount?
- Download Ecotricity’s Electric Highway mobile phone app, available from iTunes or Google Play.
- Sign in with your Eco ID on your Ecotricity energy account details
- Create a new Eco ID if you don't have an energy account. Alternatively, you can use it as a guest user without having to sign in. You just insert your credit card details each time you want to charge your vehicle.
- It takes a maximum of 45 minutes per session to charge your vehicle.
Is my car compatible with this tariff?
Fully Charged Bundle tariff is compatible with all electric vehicles and hybrids. These include BMW i3, Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, Renault Zoe, Hyundai Ioniq and Nissan LEAF.
What else do I get with the Fully Charged Bundle tariff?
If you want an electric charging point at home beside your car, Ecotricity ensures you can get one as a customer on the Fully Charged Bundle tariff. For £129 you get a Rolec Wallpod EV home charging point, including full installation.
It’s designed to offer full Mode 3 fast charging to your vehicle. The Rolec Wallpod EV home charging point is available in either J1772 or IEC 62196 tethered cable or IEC 62196 socket versions. It’s approved by OLEV (Office for Low Emission Vehicles) which gives it an official government seal of approval as to its quality and performance.
Your business energy bills are calculated based on a number of factors. They impact how your unit rate and standing charge are calculated. Among these factors is the question of size. If you run a business and will be supplied by Ecotricity, your rates will differ depending on the size of your business. Let's find out what you'll be paying as a micro or large business.
Tariff for a micro business
Ecotricity’s current deemed out of contract rates for micro-businesses are:
|Unit rate||20p per kWh|
|Standing charge||£0.75 per day|
|Unit rate||5.5p per kWh|
|Standing charge||£3 per day|
To fall under the definition of a micro business you must:
- Use < 293,000 kWh of gas per year or
- Use < 100,000 kWh of electricity per year
- Have < 10 employees (or their full-time equivalent), and
- Have an annual turnover of < €2million (£1.78m June 2019)
Tariffs for large businesses
You can get bespoke pricing if you’re running a large business. To be considered as a large business, it must fulfil 2 of the 3 criteria below:
- Annual Turnover > £25.9 million
- Balance Sheet Total > £12.9 million
- Average number of employees > 250
Green Void Tariff
If you own business property and are renting it out, you’ll still get lumped with business rates tax bills, even when it’s empty. You can’t help having empty premises, particularly during the vacant period between tenants. Ecotricity has a Green Void Tariff designed to lower the rate you have to pay.
How do I get it?
- As soon as your tenant gives you notice to vacate the property, contact Ecotricity’s team that will create an account in your name. Find out how to contact Ecotricity (coming soon).
- If there’s any debt on PAYG meters, they'll clear it for you. Ecotricity will send you a weekly status report of all your void accounts.
- Your void properties will be invoiced once a month.
- As soon as you have a new tenant going in, notify Ecotricity and they’ll transfer the account to the new tenant as quickly as possible.
P272: Half hourly meter reading
P272 is a new regulation that was enforced on 5th November 2015. It affects the way all electricity suppliers, including Ecotricity, settle electricity consumption for businesses. This is carried out within a very specified amount of energy use. As a result, business sites will migrate from non-half hourly meters (NHH) to half-hourly meters (HH). The aim is to enable suppliers to produce more accurate bills for their customers via the half-hourly consumption.
What’s in it for my business?
P272 helps you monitor where and when your business consumes energy most. It also helps you to avoid peak times of electricity use. In addition, your bills will be more accurate, as opposed to the guesswork previously used from the practice of estimated billing.
Do I need a half-hourly meter?
You’ll need to get an HH meter as per the P272 regulation if:
- Your business has a maximum demand electricity supply categorised by profile classes: 05 06 07 08, AND
- You have an Automated Meter Reading meter of which is capable of HH data collection and remote programming.
GOOD TO KNOW: Check your site's profile class on the ‘S number’ found at the very top of your electricity bill.
How do Ecotricity prices compare to the market average?
Before we can compare like for like, we must use a benchmark against which to base the prices of energy suppliers. That benchmark is the market average. Let's find out how we define the market average and what you would spend with Ecotricity compared to its competitors.
What’s the market average?
Ofgem has published an official figure for what an average household would pay if it were being charged the maximum price cap at £1,254. This cap assumes that the average household is on a dual fuel tariff.
What would I spend with Ecotricity?
Based on a three-bedroom household in London with medium fuel consumption on a standard tariff, a household could expect to pay around £1,296.53 per year on gas and electricity bills. Of course, your own energy bills will vary depending on where you live in the UK, the size of your household and your actual energy consumption.
How does Ecotricity compare?
Ecotricity is £42.35 more expensive than the market average.
GOOD TO KNOW:
Another way of comparing Ecotricity’s prices against its competitors is via its Tariff Information Label (TIL). The TIL provides a simple way to understand the key details relating to energy tariffs for gas and electricity. To find out what unit price for gas and electricity you would be spending with Ecotricity, simply head to their tariff comparison page and enter your postcode. Then click the green 'see our tariffs' button.
How can I contact Ecotricity?
Ecotricity offers a plethora of ways to contact them. Regardless of whether your question is on bills, consumption or you just need some advice, they’re on hand to help you. Find out how to contact Ecotricity (coming soon).
Ecotricity reviews and verdict
Ecotricity is certainly the strongest player in the “green energy” market. It’s not just one of the oldest, but the most recognised one among its green competitors. Does this translate into good reviews left by its customers? On average, yes.
A quick look at their rating on the review site Trustpilot highlights a large discrepancy between the 59% “excellent” reviews and the 29% “bad” ones. What’s the basis of the discrepancy? What have customers on other review website being saying about Ecotricity? What is the supplier doing to improve its ratings and it working? You can get the full rundown on their reviews page (coming soon).
| Your money goes towards the funding of green energy projects, so you do your bit for the planet.
Quick turn-around time to resolve complaints within the first 8 weeks.
Discount rates for charging Electric vehicles.
| Mobile phone app performs poorly.
Price of dual fuel tariff exceeds Ofgem’s cap.
Despite Ecotricity’s green credentials, it offers few tangible beneFiTs to the consumer compared to its competitors. Their main tariff is more expensive than Ofgem’s price cap and according to customer reviews, value-for-money is not what they’re getting. Their cheaper rate for electric vehicle users is another strong selling point, but with so few EV users, they’re not getting the praise they expected. Overall, we give Ecotricity a score of 2/5.
Ecotricity: Selectra's verdict