Environmentally aware consumers generally subscribe to green electricity deals. But, this does not mean they are necessarily supplied with renewable energy. Explanations.


When making a comparison of electricity deals, there is an element that hits home for some consumers: their green nature. The reason for this interest is because more and more Belgians seem to be aware of their environmental footprint. Responsible for the deterioration of ecosystems and the decline in biodiversity, Man’s impact on nature is alarming but every citizen can take steps to reduce it. These include consuming less and better, not taking the car but using public transport instead, and turning to renewable energy.

So, naturally subscribing to a green electricity deal would appear to be a suitable solution. But, what does this type of product actually consist of? How can the energy suppliers provide renewable energy when they do not produce it?

What is a green energy deal?

A deal is presented as 100% green when the electricity sold by the supplier was produced only from renewable sources. This can, for example, be solar, wind, heat from the Earth or from biomass. Its characteristics? It is inexhaustible and does not generate waste during the production of electricity.

So, there are many ecological alternatives but don’t celebrate too soon! Indeed, its use does not mean that you will be supplied with green electricity if you sign a deal promising this.

Four light bulbs, three black and one green

Gong for a green electricity deal but being supplied with grey energy is inevitable.

How can this be possible? In fact, it is quite simple: in our country, there is a network into which all energy producers inject their electricity. In other words, renewable mixes with electricity from all other sources like nuclear and fossil fuels (coal, oil, natural gas). Therefore, all Belgian homes have the same electricity. Impossible to distinguish it as it comes from the socket.

The only way to be sure to participate in sustainable development is, therefore, to take an interest in how the electricity sold by the suppliers is produced.

Guarantee of origin labels, a compensation system

In Belgium, most providers offer green energy deals while they often invest heavily in nuclear power and fossil fuels.

The Earth, greenYes, that’s right… Although on paper it sounds contradictory, it is quite possible. Indeed, suppliers not producing enough, if any, green electricity have no obligation to have or build their own renewable energy facilities. Marketing such deals actually forces them to buy as much green electricity as you consume.

To do so, they address producers whose facilities are located primarily in the Scandinavian countries, enabling them to receive European certificates called “guarantee of origin labels” (GOL). What are these GOLs for? To certify the green nature of the electricity then distributed to an end customer. Then all that remains is for these suppliers is to procure them to greenwash their balance sheet. And that’s how they can legally state that their electricity is 100% green.

With regard to suppliers producing green electricity, they are simply obliged to produce the equivalent amount to what they sell through their green electricity contracts.

Annual checks to verify the supplier’s commitment

Regional regulators ensure that suppliers actually comply with the European traceability system by subjecting them to two rules. First, they must submit the GOLs to the authorities each year for the green electricity sold during the period. Second, each month they must provide a list of customers supplied with renewable energy.

Based on these two items of information, the regulators will calculate the number of GOL actually expected and thus check that there is as much green energy produced as sold.

So, is being eco-responsible an impossible mission?

If the majority of providers buy nothing more than the “green colour” of electricity produced elsewhere, isn’t everything a farce? No, fortunately.

By subscribing to a green deal, consumers are unlikely to support the renewable sector in Belgium. That’s a fact. But they still participate in achieving the goals imposed in Europe and thus help accelerate the transition to sustainable energy.

And if that is not enough for them, they always have the possibility of learning about the supplier’s energy mix by visiting the Greenpeace ranking. By ensuring they are supplied solely by green producers, they will be sure that their money goes to a cause close to their heart: to protect the planet!

Still wondering which electricity provider to choose? Need help to compare green energy providers? Do not hesitate to call our advisors on 0800 37 456 or to reach them by e-mail (info@energyprice.be).

How much does green power cost?

A green euro symbol Let’s be honest: green electricity deals are generally more expensive than standard ones. Why? Nuclear energy is cheap compared to solar or wind power which are, for now, not yet profitable enough. The reason is their operational costs and high investment.

In practice, this additional cost often results in a higher annual fee. This upward trend also applies to the kWh price of electricity but at this level, there are two differing practices. Some suppliers like Engie Electrabel merely indicate in their tariff structures the supplement payable to support the production of renewable electricity.  This is then added to the consumers’ standard price of the deal. Others have chosen to directly design “green products” by adjusting rates accordingly.

Nevertheless, reconciling the preservation of resources and economics is still feasible. Indeed, every day you can adopt many habits that will allow you to reduce your consumption and therefore your electricity bill. For example, by replacing your old bulbs with more economical ones and unplugging appliances that you do not need!

And does renewable gas exist?

Natural gas is not a renewable energy source. In fact, the reserves of this fossil fuel naturally found in the Earth’s subsoil are gradually dwindling because they are being used far too quickly compared to the time they need to recover. In addition, depending on the depth and the types of deposits, gas exploitations can be highly polluting, though less polluting than coal.

To offset its often disastrous consequences for the environment, there is no quick fix. The primary extraction techniques, which allow drilling to several kilometres underground, obviously do not put the environment as a prioroity. So, to attract ecologically-minded consumers, some suppliers have decided to market carbon offset natural gas offers. What was the underlying principle? Unable to avoid the production of CO2, they undertake to offset these emissions by supporting environmental projects somewhere in the world.

On the Belgian energy market, Mega and Luminus are the only ones to do so. Mega, via its “Ecogaz” deal, promises to participate in funding projects, including some certified by the United Nations, to the level of its customer’s gas consu