GreenPower, Renewable Energy: Beware of GreenWashing

Do you want to make a difference?

For the electricity you buy, GreenPower is the only way to ensure that you support the transition to sustainable power. Other ‘renewable energy’ claims are confusing, downright misleading or mere greenwashing.

Renewable Energy

Renewable energy is a simple concept. It is electricity generated from natural sources, e.g. wind, solar and hydro-electricity.

There are 3 categories of renewable energy in Australia. Unfortunately greenwashing is rife, as companies give the impression of being virtuous while making no difference.

GreenPower Accreditation

GreenPower is the only government accredited program that enables your electricity supplier to purchase renewable energy for your home or business. It is an initiative of the Governments of ACT, NSW, SA and VIC.

The GreenPower accreditation guarantees that the electricity you buy from energy suppliers meets stringent environmental standards. All types of non-renewable generation are excluded (including coal fired, gas, oil, and nuclear; generation commencing prior to 1997; Hydro power where significant river diversions have taken place as part of the hydro station being built; and Biomass using native rainforests).

The mandatory Renewable Energy Target (RET)

A minimum quantity of new renewable power has been legislated under this scheme. The Renewable Energy Target for 2020 is 33,000 GWh and it won’t increase again. Until 2030, every provider needs to acquire and surrender certificates equivalent to their share of the 2020 target under the RET by law.

Instead of using the transparent GreenPower scheme, some very large customers, e.g. Councils have been claiming to be 100% renewable. It gets technical, but it is unclear whether renewable certificates have been acquired and surrendered. There is scope for unscrupulous parties to claim to be 100% renewable without adding at all to renewable energy generation constituting blatant greenwashing.

Unlike for GreenPower, claims based on the term ‘renewable energy’ cannot be easily tested or audited, . If the claim is ‘100% renewable’ be suspicious. Why wouldn’t they use the government accredited GreenPower scheme?

Historic renewable energy

This mainly comprises hydro electricity constructed many decades ago (e.g. The Snowy Hydro scheme). A claim ‘backed by 100% renewable energy’ or similar may have a grain of truth, but it is greenwashing as by supporting this claim with your patronage, not a single extra kilowatt hour of renewable electricity will be created. PowerShop and Red Energy are two prominent providers that spruik this claim.

Do you want to make a difference?

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