Why we’re so passionate about our fuel mix

Bryt Energy
| 06th February 2024 | Energy Renewables Sustainability

When businesses choose a renewable electricity contract, they usually do so because they are sustainability-minded, and they want their organisation to play their part in driving forward solutions to tackling the climate crisis.

That’s why at Bryt Energy, we’re passionate about our fuel mix – we only supply zero carbon, 100% renewable electricity, sourced solely from solar, wind and hydro power. Our fuel mix is audited and verified by an independent third party, EcoAct, every year and allows our customers to report their Scope 2 electricity consumption as zero carbon, under the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol market-based method.

Like the weather, our fuel mix ratio changes year-on-year, but you can always be sure that we only ever source our electricity from solar, wind and hydro power. Unlike fossil fuels, these sources are all zero carbon and 100% renewable forms of electricity at the point of generation, meaning they don’t create any carbon emissions or harmful air pollution, and are naturally replenishing.

All sources of electricity generation have their own unique considerations when it comes to their impact. We want to be totally transparent about why we’ve chosen our fuel mix and acknowledge that constructing, operating, and generating electricity comes with the need to manage sustainability challenges. Like all electricity generation, there are considerations such as human rights, supply chain vulnerabilities, and the embodied carbon of concrete that are crucial to manage and improve. We’re proud that our parent company, Statkraft, the largest renewable energy generator in Europe, has a long history of working to reduce the impact of different renewable electricity generation projects.

We have created this blog to take a deeper look into our fuel mix, to explain the benefits and considerations, and reiterate that by choosing solar, wind and hydro, we can help lead Britain towards a net zero, sustainable energy future.

SOLAR

Solar panels, also known as photovoltaics (PV), capture energy from the Sun and convert its light into electricity. So, at the point of generation, solar power produces zero emissions and is 100% renewable (for as long as the Sun keeps shining!).

In addition to being a zero carbon source of electricity, solar technology has seen consistent year-on-year improvements in efficiency. Since 2010, solar PV has become nearly 60% more efficient, meaning the size of panels can be kept the same, with higher capacity for electricity generation1. Well-managed solar farms have also been found to support biodiversity and bird species that are in decline2. In fact, Statkraft is developing a solar site in Cambridgeshire that will include measures to enhance biodiversity at the site by 141%3.

To reach net zero emissions, the UK Government announced targets to increase the capacity of solar generation from the 15 gigawatts (GW) currently installed4, to 70GW by 20355. Whilst increasing the deployment of solar power has led to debates in political circles around land use, research has shown that upscaling solar in line with net zero targets would only take up roughly half of the space currently used for golf courses6. Despite this, it remains important to optimise the area used for solar generation – with a recent study finding that utilising rooftops and car parks has the potential to provide at least 40GW of electricity generation capacity in England by 20357.

Looking at the lifecycle of solar panels, there is still a challenge with global supply chains, due to the ethical considerations of manufacturing being located in areas where there are significant human rights concerns8. There is a global consensus that if the supply chains of solar PV are concentrated in one area, then the industry could become vulnerable. The IEA suggests that diversifying the supply capacity would reduce the associated risks and potentially lead to economic and environmental benefits. Additionally, industry initiatives to improve the end-of-life recycling of solar panels will also reduce the environmental pressure that is placed on raw material demand, encouraging circular solutions9.

For the UK to achieve net zero, solar power will need to rapidly increase its contribution to the UK’s energy mix – a big challenge, but one we believe, together with our customers and the wider energy industry, is achievable.

WIND

Wind turbines, which sees rotating blades connected to a generator, harness energy from the wind by converting the kinetic energy into electricity. Wind energy makes up a significant proportion of our fuel mix and is particularly abundant in the UK, due to naturally windy conditions and the national ambition to be world leaders in wind generation10.

In the first quarter of 2023, wind farms in the UK generated more electricity than gas for the first time11, with record breaking wind generation set to continue as more capacity is installed. Whilst wind turbine infrastructure has presented challenges when it comes to end-of-life recycling12, a recent breakthrough in chemical technology means that it is possible for new epoxy-based blades to be broken down, reused and crucially, avoid landfill.

Some concerns have also been raised over the impacts of wind turbines on wildlife. However, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) stated that it supports the growth in offshore and onshore wind projects, with the knowledge that continued research on placement can minimise impacts on bird migration13. Moreover, some studies have shown offshore wind turbines can positively affect biodiversity, with algae, mussels and oysters growing on the foundation, providing them, and other marine species, with protected habitats14.

Both wind and solar are referred to as “intermittent” renewable energies, they cannot be turned on like traditional fossil fuel generation when there is demand. However, these energy sources can be co-located alongside battery storage to ensure renewable electricity is stored for when it’s needed, regardless of the weather. The reliability of wind generation here in the UK also hits its peak out at sea, where offshore wind farms are exposed to higher and almost constant wind speeds – ideal conditions for electricity generation.

Statkraft has ambitions to “accelerate growth in solar, onshore wind, and battery storage…reaching an annual development rate of 4GW by 2030”15. This rapid upscaling in renewable energy capabilities will support the UK’s target of increasing wind generation capacity and decarbonising the power system by 203516.

HYDRO

Hydro power stations take advantage of water flows by harnessing its kinetic energy and turning it into electricity. Despite being only a small part of the UK’s electricity mix17, hydro power is a mature technology with a history of more than 2,000 years, and globally, produces more electricity than all other renewable sources combined18. Hydro power stations can also be multipurpose, providing clean water and irrigation for agriculture, as well as providing flood and drought protection in some areas19. Research suggests the use of this technology in the last 50 years alone has helped to avoid more than 100 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) that would have been released from fossil fuel combustion20.

However, the development of hydro power can lead to socio-economic and environmental impacts during both the construction and the ongoing operation of projects. For example, hydro power developments have been criticised for displacing local communities, disrupting the surrounding water flows, and impacting local natural habitats21. Statkraft, the largest producer of hydro power in Europe, ensure they conduct impact assessments of new projects and work to mitigate the impacts22. At several of their sites, including at Rheidol hydro power station in Wales, Statkraft control water flow and install fish ladders to create better conditions for fish, protecting biodiversity23.

Hydro power is a reliable source of electricity, as water flow is predictable and controllable. This means hydro power stations have the ability to be turned on and off quickly, providing a stable source of generation during periods of fluctuating electricity demand, when the sun doesn’t shine, or the wind doesn’t blow. Hydro power is expected to remain the largest source of renewable electricity generation globally into the 2030s, providing much needed system flexibility24.

BIOMASS AND NUCLEAR

Both biomass and nuclear energy have been considered important sources of low carbon electricity generation that will help the UK transition to a net zero energy system. This is due to biomass being dispatchable on demand, while nuclear can provide a continuous stable baseload. Whilst we are strongly in favour of moving away from fossil fuels and the energy sector using all tools available to do this, we believe it is still important to critically assess all sources of electricity generation.

Biomass is derived from recently living organic materials (typically wood pellets in the UK) that is combusted to generate electricity. Although it is abundant and naturally replenishing, biomass does create carbon emissions when burned. There can, therefore, be a discrepancy between the CO2 released when combusted, and the time it takes for the same amount of carbon to be absorbed again by new biomass25. Because of this, there are ongoing debates whether biomass can be classed as a source of zero carbon electricity.

Nuclear energy creates electricity by splitting atoms apart, which creates heat. This heat is then turned into electricity by transforming water into steam, which spins a turbine26. Although nuclear can be classed as ‘zero carbon’ at the point of generation, it cannot be classed as renewable. This is because it requires uranium, a finite radioactive resource. Nuclear power is also controversial due to the environmental and health risks27 associated with the use of uranium and the accompanying radioactive waste it creates.

At Bryt Energy, we therefore chose to only supply our customers with zero carbon, 100% renewable electricity sourced solely from solar, wind and hydro.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR OUR CUSTOMERS?

Here at Bryt Energy, we’re passionate about the sources we have chosen to include in our fuel mix and the reasons why. While solar, wind and hydro power each have their own unique benefits and considerations, we believe that, together, they offer a resilient fuel mix that powers British businesses and leads the way towards a net zero, sustainable energy future.

So, if you’re a Bryt Energy customer, you can benefit from total peace of mind that our fuel mix has been comprehensively thought out to accommodate our sustainability values. You can also be assured that our fuel mix is matched with renewable energy guarantees of origin certificates (REGOs) which have been audited and verified by an independent third party, EcoAct. This means our customers can report zero carbon emissions on their Scope 2 under the GHG Protocol market-based method. For more information about our fuel mix and what you can report, read our thorough FAQs here.

By choosing zero carbon, renewable electricity from Bryt Energy, you are also indirectly supporting renewable generation because we are part of the Statkraft Group. Statkraft has invested over £1.3 billion in the UK’s renewable energy infrastructure since 2006, and with their vision to “renew the way the world is powered”, we’re working to deliver this, together.

Join Bryt Energy today:

If you’re interested in securing zero carbon, 100% renewable electricity for your business, find out more about becoming a Bryt Energy customer today by calling us on 0330 053 8620 or email heretohelp@brytenergy.co.uk.

Or if your business is looking to take the next step on its sustainable energy journey, you can access our series of guides on ‘Navigating the net zero energy transition’, here: https://www.brytenergy.co.uk/navigating-the-energy-transition/.

* Bryt Energy’s supply product has been audited and verified by an independent third party, EcoAct, to guarantee that our products are backed by guarantee of origin certificates (REGOs and/or GoOs – for as long as they are recognised in the UK).

Bryt Energy manages these certificates to ensure that we have sufficient amount in order to supply renewable power to all of our customers across a year, and therefore allow our customers to report zero carbon emissions under the GHG Protocol Scope 2 Guidance. All source certification meets GHG Protocol Scope 2 Guidance Quality Criteria for market-based reporting method.

Certificates are held by energy suppliers for Fuel Mix Disclosure (FMD) purposes and Bryt Energy’s FMD represents the total amount of electricity purchased from the wholesale market to cover our portfolio of customers supply in given FMD year.

Bryt Energy purchases all electricity through our parent company, Statkraft, who procure the electricity volume to match our customers’ contracted amount from the wholesale electricity market.

You can read more details of our fuel mix here, which also includes some guidance around reporting your greenhouse gas emissions.

Sources
  1. https://www.iea.org/reports/solar-pv-global-supply-chains/executive-summary
  2. https://www.solarpowerportal.co.uk/news/national_survey_finds_that_well_managed_solar_farms_can_address_loss_of_bio
  3. https://www.statkraft.co.uk/about-statkraft-uk/where-we-operate/Locations/stargoosesolar/
  4. https://www.solarpowerportal.co.uk/news/government_figures_show_a_6.7_increase_in_the_uks_solar_capacity_in_last_ye
  5. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/independent-review-of-net-zero-government-response/responding-to-the-independent-review-of-net-zeros-recommendations
  6. https://www.carbonbrief.org/factcheck-is-solar-power-a-threat-to-uk-farmland/
  7. https://www.cpre.org.uk/news/rooftops-can-provide-over-half-our-solar-energy-targets-report-shows/
  8. https://www.statkraft.co.uk/lowemissions/
  9. https://www.iea.org/reports/solar-pv-global-supply-chains/executive-summary
  10. https://www.ukri.org/news-and-events/responding-to-climate-change/topical-stories/harnessing-offshore-wind/
  11. https://www.reuters.com/world/uk/british-wind-power-overtakes-gas-first-time-q1-2023-report-2023-05-10/
  12. https://www.vestas.com/en/media/company-news/2023/vestas-unveils-circularity-solution-to-end-landfill-for-c3710818
  13. https://community.rspb.org.uk/ourwork/b/science/posts/the-rspb-and-offshore-wind
  14. https://www.nature.com/articles/s44183-022-00003-5
  15. https://www.statkraft.co.uk/about-statkraft-uk/strategy/
  16. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/powering-up-britain/powering-up-britain
  17. https://www.congletonhydro.co.uk/about-dane-valley-community-energy-dvce-benefit-society/hydroelectricenergy/#:~:text=Hydroelectric%20Power%20in%20the%20UK,1.8%25%20of%20our%20national%20capacity
  18. https://www.irena.org/Publications/2023/Feb/The-changing-role-of-hydropower-Challenges-and-opportunities
  19. https://www.hydropower.org/iha/discover-facts-about-hydropower
  20. https://www.hydropower.org/factsheets/greenhouse-gas-emissions#:~:text=Independent%20research%20suggests%20that%20use,United%20States%20for%2020%20years
  21. https://www.ucsusa.org/resources/environmental-impacts-hydroelectric-power#:~:text=Flooding%20land%20for%20a%20hydroelectric,way%20for%20reservoirs%20%5B3%5D
  22. https://www.statkraft.co.uk/sustainability/our-commitments/environment/
  23. https://www.statkraft.co.uk/about-statkraft-uk/where-we-operate/Locations/rheidol-hydropower-plant/
  24. https://www.iea.org/energy-system/renewables/hydroelectricity
  25. https://community.rspb.org.uk/ourwork/b/nature-s-advocates/posts/biomass–_2d00_–a-burning-issue
  26. https://education.nationalgeographic.org/resource/nuclear-energy/
  27. https://www.lse.ac.uk/granthaminstitute/explainers/role-nuclear-power-energy-mix-reducing-greenhouse-gas-emissions/ 

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