Transcript for Episode 10: Green Electricity

This is the transcript of Episode 10: Green Electricity of the How to Make a Difference podcast. Go to the episode page to listen to this episode and for the show notes. Furthermore, we encourage you to read our blog post on green electricity.

Janet Wood: Instead of thinking of electric vehicle batteries as things that need to be filled at just the most inconvenient time, I would say sometimes people think of it as a sea of storage, of which a lot of them will be fully charged, a lot of the time. So while your car is parked outside the house, it might be used to balance the grid. 

Preface: 0:44

Elisabeth Ignasiak: Hey everyone!

Chinmai Gupta: Hey everyone!

Elisabeth Ignasiak: So glad you’re with us today. Before we start the actual episode – Do you know those scenes at the end of action movies, where they show you all the stunts that went wrong? Well… we had a few gone-wrong scenes sprinkled through our past episodes – but – it turns out no one listens to the end of episodes! At least, that’s what our statistics show us: So, on average people listen to 40-70% of an episode… 

I am of course shocked, that listeners are missing out on some very funny behind-the-scenes-scenes – as well as our incredibly smart commentary. But, we’re nothing if not quick learners. So this time we’re putting it at the start! Here comes the exclusive segment: “Chinmai and Elisabeth going Off Script”. 

PS: check out the end episode 7 for some serious comedy gold.

Chinmai and Elisabeth going Off Script: 1:43

Elisabeth Ignasiak: Switching your dishwasher on at night can help the… can help keep…. can help make… the electricity grid greener. Switching…

Chinmai Gupta: Well done! Ten on ten! 

Elisabeth Ignasiak: Switching…

Chinmai Gupta: Switching your dishwasher on at night can help clean… can help clean you dishes…

Elisabeth Ignasiak: Actually, that might be a good line… cleans your dishes and the grid…

Chinmai Gupta: Ah… yes…  

Introduction: 2:14

Chinmai Gupta: Today we’re gonna be discussing green electricity and what impact we can have by switching to a green electricity supply. We did not expect the topic to be as complex as it turned out to be, before we set out on this journey. But, I guess nothing to do with climate change is straightforward!

Elisabeth Ignasiak: Having said that, we hope that us breaking this topic down for you, will help you decide what kind of action you would like to take in terms of your electricity supply.  

Chinmai Gupta: As always, we will bring all sides of the argument to you along with our conclusions. We start by talking with Stuart Lloyd-Evans to understand what goes on behind the scenes and how energy gets delivered to our homes. Stuart has spent 25 years in the electricity and gas market in various commercial roles. 

Elisabeth Ignasiak: before we jump in: for those of you with sensitive ears: Unfortunately, my mic broke just before the interview and I had to make do with the computer mic. So without further ado – here is the interview:

Interview with Stuart Lloyd-Evans: 3:22

Chinmai Gupta: Today, we’re talking to Stuart Lloyd-Evans, managing director of Cielo Energy Limited. Welcome, Stuart.

Elisabeth Ignasiak: Welcome.

Stuart Lloyd-Evans: Hello. Nice to speak to you.

Chinmai Gupta: And you. Nice to have you with us today. Could you begin by telling us a little bit about yourself, please? And what you do?

Stuart Lloyd-Evans: Sure, yeah, sure. As you said, I’m the MD of a company called Cielo Energy, a consultancy business that provides commercial consultancy to businesses across the energy sector. Prior to that, I spent 25ish years in the electricity and gas market, so I’m a bit of an energy geek!

Chinmai Gupta: So you’re the perfect person, then to talk about green energy. So can you start by telling us a little bit about how electricity gets delivered to our homes?

Stuart Lloyd-Evans: Yeah sure, no problem at all. So if you start looking at the physical world, most of us in our homes and businesses really think about: we just press a button, then something happens. But then behind that, there’s a whole lot going on to make sure it happens. If you think about how much you consume, that will be different at different times of day, different times of the year. So the demand that you actually need is changing across those times. And also, one of the challenges with electricity is you can’t store it cheaply. So when you switch the lights on, or switch your washing machine on, or something like that, the electricity that’s generated, has to balance the electricity that’s being consumed.

Chinmai Gupta: Right, so, when I switch my kettle on, that electricity needs to be produced in real time as opposed to when I turn a tap on, where the water is supplied from a tank that can be pre-filled. Interesting.

Stuart Lloyd-Evans: Yes.

Elisabeth Ignasiak: So that sounds to be a really difficult thing to do to match the demand, which seems a bit hard to predict, right?

Stuart Lloyd-Evans: It is in some respects, if you think about the vast majority of customers, I mean, all of us in our homes, and most businesses as well don’t tell anybody what we’re going to do, before we do it. Fortunately, if you look at the aggregate of everybody’s behaviour, it tends to be predictable. So people get up at certain time, they get to work at certain time, they will cook their food at certain time.

Elisabeth Ignasiak: So maybe I turn on my machine at one, the other person ot two, but like overall, you have that spike at lunch, that is more predictable.

Stuart Lloyd-Evans: Exactly, so in broad terms you can predict what’s going on with it. So then, because you can predict how much demand will be used in total, behind the scenes and behind the switches in our houses, there are suppliers and network businesses forecasting how much we’ll need and when we’ll need it. 

And what they’re then doing is scheduling generation to run. To make sure that the electricity is being produced at the right times of day. So if you were to look across the electricity network, there’ll be people now thinking about what’s happening in four or five years’ time, maybe even beyond that, just to make sure that there’s sufficient capacity to meet demand. And then people will be… as we’re getting nearer and nearer to delivery then scheduling, what’s actually going to be generating in order to keep the lights on. And then the people will then be working to operate as you get near real time, you know more about what’s going on. So people are doing whatever it is they’re doing, they may be using bit more bit less depending on what’s happening with the weather, or how dark it is. For example, if it’s raining, it’s more likely lights will be turned on. So demand will increase.  

Chinmai Gupta: Right, to summarise, electricity suppliers forecast, as accurately as possible, the amount of electricity that will be used in aggregate, going out several years. This helps the market plan their supply. As we get closer to the actual day of consumption, the forecast is refined down to the minute, based on real-time factors like temperature and daylight. Very interesting! 

Stuart Lloyd-Evans: Yeah. So that’s the kind of physical world.

But then if you think what’s going on in the financial world, and what goes on to your house – most people at home will have an electricity tariff where the price is fixed for a period of time. 

But behind the scenes in the energy market, prices are constantly fluctuating. There’s a whole trading market there. Think of the pictures that you see on TV screens are people sitting in banks with banks of screens around them. The energy market is exactly like that. And you’ll have people sitting with maybe a dozen screens in front of them showing prices for different quantities over different times.

Elisabeth Ignasiak: What is being traded, exactly?

Stuart Lloyd-Evans: Generally, what’s being traded is the electricity for delivery different times. So you’ll have somebody forecasting how much you’re going to use, or when you’re going to use it, somebody else will then go off into the wholesale market and buy the commodity.

Elisabeth Ignasiak: I had no idea that there’s this level of action going on behind the scenes! That’s really cool!

Chinmai Gupta: And that kind of leads me to my next question. What roles do renewables and non renewable power sources play on a daily or annual basis? Is there a difference in roles that they play?

Stuart Lloyd-Evans: Yeah, very much so. Probably, the one that’s most seasonal is solar, that you see. I mean if you think you know, if the sun’s not up solar doesn’t work. So in the summer, you see much more generation from solar than you do during the winter. It’s not a different times of day, depending when it gets light and when it gets dark. 

So on an annual basis, renewables across the EU – and I’ll include the UK in that – are round about 40% of total generation may come from renewables – that’s on an annual basis. But within that, you’ll see individual days that are practically zero, if there’s no wind at all, and no sun, to days when the vast majority of generation comes from renewable sources.

Chinmai Gupta: So what happens when you have those lean periods when there is no renewable energy? Or very little renewable energy? What happens at those times of the day or year?

Stuart Lloyd-Evans: At the moment, other generation will fill the gaps. You have a backup generation of either gas, coal, nuclear, depending where you sit in the world. 

And it used to be that people would build a generator and just try and operate it as much as possible. But now people are building smaller scale generation. They may run off gas. They would expect to run for maybe 50 hours a year, let’s say maybe a little bit more than that. And it’s there to fill in the gaps when there are problems.

Chinmai Gupta: So if I can explain it again in my own words. Looking at it again from the perspective of the financial market: Imagine the electricity grid to be an empty glass. The cheapest electricity, which is normally renewable, given its low marginal costs is used to start filling the glass. Once the cheap energy supply is used up, more expensive electricity is then used to fill it to the next level. And so on. At peak times, the most expensive energy will make it into the grid which would normally come from fossil fuels. 

Elisabeth Ignasiak: That is a brilliant analogy!  

Chinmai Gupta: Thank you.

Elisabeth Ignasiak: So basically the market always uses the cheapest energy first, which lucky enough happens to be green most of the time. But at certain times of the day, when we have those big peaks and so much more electricity is needed, then you fill that demand with more and more expensive energy, which also happens to be dirtier.

Stuart Lloyd-Evans: Yes, that’s true for renewable generation. When it operates, has a near zero cost to generate what it produces. The cost of building it – the capital cost – is generally paid for via some other subsidy mechanism, where it’s getting paid for something that isn’t the electricity cost. 

Elisabeth Ignasiak: And that’s why the marginal costs are so low?

Stuart Lloyd-Evans: Yes, exactly. It costs nothing for the sun or the wind. But it does cost something to build it in the first place. And that needs to be recovered from somewhere.

Elisabeth Ignasiak: Got it. So basically, the infrastructure – like building it – is what cost a lot of money, but that was subsidized. And running it is very cheap

Stuart Lloyd-Evans: Exactly, yes.

Elisabeth Ignasiak: Cool. 

Chinmai Gupta: So, what I’m understanding is that all electricity that’s generated goes into a common pool. So does this mean that my switching to a green energy supply makes someone else consume more coal or gas?

Stuart Lloyd-Evans: It depends how you want to look at it. It’s probably fair to say that it is controversial. Because, I mean, as we talked about, physically, the grid is interconnected. And technically, nobody knows where each electron goes when it’s produced. It goes into the network and will be used by somebody somewhere. So choosing one tariff over another, doesn’t really change the amount of generation of a particular type. Because the generation gets created to satisfy demand.

Chinmai Gupta: Right.

Stuart Lloyd-Evans: So, if you take 100%, renewables and green, what action does it make you take? Do you do something in order to use less at home and generally be more focused on the environment? So it’s a kind of catalyst in doing something. 

Chinmai Gupta: Right.

Stuart Lloyd-Evans: It may drive more generation to be built, if you’re doing it. I would hope it would create that demand for the electricity, that means they’re going investing in things. 

Elisabeth Ignasiak: We’ve been wondering whether it makes a difference to get a green energy plan from a small company that supplies only green electricity, versus a company that has both types of plans? Do you know what I mean?

Stuart Lloyd-Evans: I do. And I think unfortunately, the answer to a lot of these things is: it depends. It’s kinda… it’s always… it’s a very nuanced answer in that, it depends both for the small supplier and the large supplier, what are they actually doing? If you imagine that you take a tariff where somebody says, as a result of you taking this tariff, I am going to build a solar farm, or I’m going to build this wind farm. And so the funds that you pay me would directly go into it, it doesn’t really matter the scale of the company at that point what they’re doing with the funds they’re receiving.

Chinmai Gupta: Right.

Stuart Lloyd-Evans: But if it’s a company that is offering you a tariff, be they large or small, then nothing is happening behind the scenes. It doesn’t really… it’s a marketing thing, rather than actually physically doing something.

Elisabeth Ignasiak: Okay, so you’re saying in either case, the point of switching to a green electricity provider is that you create that demand, and that incentivizes them, hopefully, to create more green infrastructure?

Stuart Lloyd-Evans: Exactly, yes.

Chinmai Gupta: What else can we as consumers do, at our end?

Stuart Lloyd-Evans: As an end consumer, there are still some really simple things that you can do to have a positive impact: use less, is probably the most effective form of that. If you’re not using something, turn it off, make a difference. Buying appliances that are more efficient will just constantly reduce that consumption. So there are things that you people can do that are really simple.

Elisabeth Ignassiak: Yeah… yeah… makes sense.

Chinmai Gupta: Okay, perfect. I think, that kind of rounds it all up for us then. Thank you very much, Stuart, for speaking with us today. That was very interesting. Thank you.

Stuart Lloyd-Evans: Pleasure. Thank you.

Discussion: 13:52

Chinmai Gupta: Yeah, after that really interesting conversation with Stuart, we got a good appreciation for how the electricity infrastructure and markets work. But we were still a few steps away from a definitive answer on what difference I can make if I switch to a green energy tariff. We wanted to investigate whether a 100% green supply is even possible? And if it is – how would those gaps in seasonality be filled?

Elisabeth Ignasiak: Yeah. This is actually something I’m quite curious about, personally. I know there is a lot of scepticism, if a green electricity future is realistic at all. 

Our next guest runs an expert magazine on the energy sector. And here’s the interview – we really hope you find it as insightful as we did.

Interview with Janet Wood: 14:46

Chinmai Gupta: Today we’re talking to Janet Wood, editor of New Power Magazine on green energy. Welcome, Janet.

Janet Wood: Yes. Hi, Chinmai.

Chinmai Gupta: So Janet, could you tell us a little bit about yourself, and what do you do, please?

Janet Wood: I am a journalist who’s been covering the power sector for several decades, now. And I’ve covered it from various angles, for various different groups of people who are involved in it, sometimes more technical, sometimes more political, sometimes about what’s happening in particular geographies.

Chinmai Gupta: Thank you very much.

Elisabeth Ignasiak: We spoke with Stuart Lloyd-Evans before, who gave us a really good overview of how the electricity market works. And what we would like to explore, in a bit more detail, is the role that renewable energy plays in all of this. So to start off: Seeing that for example we have sunlight only during the day and not at night, or that sometimes it’s windy, sometimes it isn’t – is it even possible to provide 100% green electricity?

Janet Wood: Well, that’s about preparing for those kinds of eventualities. If you are a fan of hydropower, for example, you can collect water behind the dam, and then you’re able to use that whenever you want to. We have a hydro power plant in the UK. And there are a number of these around, which is known as pump storage plants. And it has a lake at the bottom of the mountain and lake at the top of the mountain. In fact, it’s known to hydro engineers as electric mountain, when… when there’s a lot of wind and a lot of sun, you’ve got too much electricity, and you really need to find a way to dispose of it. And that time, you pump the power to the top of the… to the top of the mountain, and then you hold it there on the upper lake. And then when you need to power, you can release it.

Elisabeth Ignasiak: That’s really clever, to just reverse how hydro power usually works. So you use electricity to pump water up the mountain, and then later you can release the water and transform it back into electricity. 

Janet Wood: Yes. Now that’s nowhere near… it’s a drop in the ocean, compared to the amount of power that we use across the whole country. It’s just one example of how there are ways of managing this kind of energy fluctuation. Another way with renewables is to have a very big system that’s very geographically spread. And then being able to transfer power from areas where you have got power being generated to areas where there’s a lack. So you might have, for example, lots of solar power in the south of Europe, lots of wind power in the north of Europe. On days, when there’s not much wind in the north, it can… it could be helped out by the… by Southern Europe. 

All of these things help to smooth some of those fluctuations out. Again, we’re nowhere near, at the moment, being able to cover times when the whole of Europe didn’t have… doesn’t have any renewables. But as we go on, you start to realise there are fewer times than you might think when there’s absolutely nothing available. 

Elisabeth Ignasiak: Okay, interesting. So basically, there’s two things that can help with these fluctuations: clever storage solutions like that electric mountain you mentioned, or simply sharing electricity amongst different regions, right?

Janet Wood: Yes. There’s also a lot that can be done – and this is really one of the new things that the industry is doing – a lot that can be done by using customers and using what customers do to try and help manage that fluctuation. 

Elisabeth Ignasiak: Okay?

Janet Wood: Electric vehicles are a very good example, they’ve got big batteries, that store enough to haul up a car, a very long way. And more than enough to power a house for a day. 

Elisabeth Ignasiak: Okay. I didn’t know that!

Janet Wood: Now, again, vehicles will require a lot of electricity. But the great benefit of that: if you want to use that as a way of storing energy, and changing it back into electricity that can feed your house. There’s a lot of interest in that.

In fact, if you’ve charged them at different times, you can do exactly as we discussed earlier on which is: soak up the times at which there’s extra power coming from a huge amount of wind or a huge amount of solar that we can’t otherwise use. 

Instead of thinking of electric vehicle batteries as things that need to be filled at just the most inconvenient time, I would say sometimes people think of it as a sea of storage, of which a lot of them will be fully charged, a lot of the time. So while your car is parked outside the house, it might be used to balance the grid. 

Elisabeth Ignasiak: That’s really fascinating. This is the first time, I’m hearing of electric cars as a solution rather than a problem in managing these fluctuations in the grid.

Chinmai Gupta: I was going to ask exactly that question. So how is this planning done? You know, where? What do customers need and how much electricity needs to be produced? How does that work?

Janet Wood: All of our individual suppliers, do a lot of forecasting of how much they want and Not just how much they want, but when they’re going to want it. And then enormous detail. And you will see some very big peaks, where multiples of the amount of power that you would use at night is being used. And even within that time, you will see some very sudden spikes.

Now the classic example in the UK, and I would think in probably other footballing nations as well, is the point in the middle of our cup final, maybe the World Cup final, that’s an issue for the whole of Europe together. When you get to half time, everybody wants to get up, move around, put the kettle on, if you’re in the UK, obviously, that might not be a problem in other places, but certainly the kettle’s going on here, flush the toilet, which requires other things to happen down the line from the water companies and they’re pumping water around, and you get a very sudden spike, just for a few minutes, your system operator will be planning for that.

If it’s got… because it has to happen very quickly….  it will have some plants running in neutral, so that it can just click them in. And they might be fossil fuel plants. Quite an elegant way to do it, if you’ve got a lot of wind, and it’s and it’s a nice windy day, is that before that time comes and you know exactly when it’s going to be, you can just alter the angle of the wind turbine blades so that they spill a lot of wind and other plants take over. So then when the moment comes when you’re gonna have your spike, you can realign those wind turbine blades. Suddenly, they’re producing a lot more power than they were half a minute ago. And in that way you’re using the characteristics of different types of plants. Because some plants can move up and down in the amount of power they produce very, very quickly, some of them can move very slowly. So you can use that… you can play tunes on those different types of plants to make sure that it’s balanced from minute to minute, and even from second to second, and in fact, even sub second. In less than a second, sometimes, you’ll have to respond.

Elisabeth Ignasiak: It sounds really complicated.

Janet Wood: And then finally, people being able to move what they do. There are things that you do at home, at the end of the day that you could probably do at a different time. Putting on the washing, you could probably do overnight. If you have a well insulated house, you could move the time at which you turn on electric heating a couple of hours earlier. So the house is nice and warm when you get home and it’s happened in a period it’s not quite such a peak and you still got a nice warm house. All these things are really useful to the system.

Chinmai Gupta: So you’re saying, my doing my washing overnight is going to help the systems so it won’t overload it during peak hours?

Janet Wood: Yes, absolutely. Absolutely. And it will, it should also make a greener electricity supply. 

Chinmai Gupta: Yes.

Elisabeth Ignasiak: Can you expand on why that is?

Janet Wood: The way the system works and the way the companies who are supplying to work, they want to take the cheapest power, first of all. 

Chinmai Gupta: Right.

Janet Wood: And usually, while the wind’s blowing and the sun is shining, the cheapest power is the renewables power. That’s not always the case, but most of the time, because that time, there’s plenty of power on the system. And so the price goes down. You tend to see the price go up, as those… as there’s less wind less available also, as demand goes up. 

So when there’s more demand your supplier will have to call on older plants, dirtier plants, more expensive plants. So anything that you can do to move, your demand out of those times of peak supply is helpful to you, it’s helpful to the making the system greener, and it’s helpful to reducing the overall cost of the electricity supply. Because those old, creaky dirty plants are also usually those that are most expensive.

Elisabeth Ignasiak: In a way, this is really empowering to be able to actually make the grid greener – simply by turning my appliances on at a different time. That’s really cool. 

So… one thing that we were curious about – seeing the difficulty of providing the whole network with green electricity – Does it even make a difference if people switch their electricity supplier? 

Janet Wood: Oh, I would say certainly Yes. I would say it’s certainly worth as many people as possible switching. Because the more people that want green electricity, the more companies will be able to respond, or will have to respond by buying more and sourcing more. More customers on a green tariff mean you need more green electricity. When it comes down to it. So that kind of customer pressure is good.

Chinmai Gupta: That’s really helpful. Thank you. I have another question: So apart from switching my electricity provider, and perhaps switching over to energy saving bulbs, is there anything else that I can do in my daily life?

Janet Wood: Yes, definitely. We’ve spoken a little bit interchangeably, up till now about electricity and energy, and of course they’re not… not the same thing. Electricity is just one form of energy that needs to go green. The amount of heat we use is four times the amount of electricity that we use. So, there are other options for decarbonizing that gas network. But one way of doing it is to switch to electricity for that. And to switch to electricity for other things that need to be fueled by energy for example, electric vehicles are a good way of decarbonizing because eventually when you’ve got an entire renewables system, you should have green, green cars as well, because they’re using the green electricity. 

But there are some very simple and really no brainer options that you can do to help. The thing that is quite often not mentioned till the end and in fact, we’re not mentioning it till quite late on, is: insulate. Insulate your house! First of all, it reduces your,… the bill for your energy. You need less heat. And if you did have… do you have electric heating, and you’ve got insulation, as I mentioned earlier on, you can heat your house at a different time and you can relieve the pressure on the grid at peak times. 

But yes right now, I would say, I’ll just repeat that: insulate! Insulate! You know, get a green tarif. Think about electric vehicle.

Chinmai Gupta: There’s some really interesting tips that we’d not thought about. So yeah, thank you very much. 

Elisabeth Ignasiak: Thank you so much for all the explanations. This is really such a complicated topic and you’ve made it quite easy to understand. So thank you so much for, for all of that and for taking the time to speak with us today.

Janet Wood: Well, thank you. There’s nothing I like as much as banging on about electricity supply.  

Chinmai Gupta: We really enjoyed the chat. So yeah thank you very much. 

Janet Wood: Thank you.

Discussion: 26:46

Elisabeth Ignasiak: I have to admit – I really thought green electricity is gonna be one of those super straight forward topics – but I learned sooo much in these two interviews!

So,… so one thing that blew my mind was this whole financial aspect of electricity trading. That it’s a bit like the stock market. That was new to me. I have that picture in my mind now, with people in suits, running around, with sheets of paper, screaming at each other… Though, I’m guessing it’s probably a lot more peaceful than that, in reality.  

Chinmai Gupta: Yes! I loved learning about the mechanics of the electricity market, both from a  financial point of view – as you’ve mentioned, but also from a physical point of view. I guess, I had never considered that electricity must be produced at the same moment that it is consumed. So someone needs to predict my consumption patterns and then someone else has to plan to produce electricity the moment I switch my, say, kettle on! So I found that very fascinating.

Elisabeth Ignasiak: And then – talking about fascinating – the other thing I thought was really interesting was what Janet said about electric cars. So, I’ve heard the critical side of the story so often – you know, that electric cars can’t be scaled because we need so much electricity that it just can’t be done.  And I’m totally intrigued by the fact that electric cars could actually be the solution! So that when you have these huge electricity fluctuations that renewable electricity comes with: When you have too much energy supply we just charge electric cars. And when the sun isn’t shining, we use the EV’s to fill the gaps. That is so clever! 

Chinmai Gupta: It is, isn’t it? 

Elisabeth Ignasiak: So… what can we do as consumers?

Chinmai Gupta: Yeah. I thought our guests had some very good suggestions, in terms of what we as consumers can do to help the grid. The first one was to buy more efficient appliances, another point was to try and use some of our energy consuming appliances and machines at night to help keep the grid greener.

Elisabeth Ignasiak: That’s actually a really interesting one, that I wasn’t aware of. That it would have such a big impact, whether I turn my machine on at night or during the day. That’s quite a cool thing to know. 

Chinmai Gupta: I’ve also become very conscious of when I use my appliances, now, so…

Elisabeth Ignasiak: Yeah! Me too! Like every time I switch on the dishwasher during the day, I feel guilty, now. 

Chinmai Gupta: Yeah. I think it’s just about creating new habits. 

Elisabeth Ignasiak: Yeah. 

Chinmai Gupta: Another point was to insulate. And that has a huge impact on the amount of electricity that we consume. And of course, switch to a green electricity plan, so that we can increase the demand, which in turn would have a knock on effect on the supply and the future of green energy.

Elisabeth Ignasiak: Yeah. I have to admit that last point is the one I thought would be the most obvious. So if I switch to a green energy supplier this is how much CO2 I can save. But, it turns out it’s not that simple, because electricity is always delivered through that common grid. And that’s just physics. 

Chinmai Gupta: Exactly. And since supply is matched with demand, it could be any varying mix of green and non green, depending on the time of the day, peak periods, ect.

Elisabeth Ignasiak: Yeah. So the difference we’re making is really more on the long-term side. So if I switch, I create more demand, which leads to more investment in renewable energy plants, which makes the grid greener. So in the end, of course it does make a difference. It’s just much harder to quantify. 

Chinmai, you actually did a rough calculation, right? 

Chinmai Gupta: Yeah. I did the maths and an average person living in Germany would be able to save in the region of 700kg of CO2 per year if they were to switch to a green energy contract. 

Elisabeth Ignasiak: So that would be 7% of your annual emissions, roughly. That’s not bad. 

Chinmai Gupta: Yeah. Now after what we’ve learnt in these interviews, I feel I need to caveat that, by saying that the impact might not happen right away and might take a while. Now it’s anyone’s guess to say how long that would be. Would it be a year? Two years? Or a bit more.

Elisabeth Ignasiak: There’s one thing I wanted to add, because that’s the question I always ask myself, which is: Where is my money going? So when I pay for electricity, am I supporting a green electricity provider, or is my money going to some generic energy company that doesn’t really care much about the climate. So independently of how soon my switch leads to new green investments – I certainly don’t want my money to go to companies that are moving in the opposite direction. 

Chinmai Gupta: That’s a really good point. And something you and I have undertaken to investigate. How do I know if my electricity provider is really green? This is something that we explore in the next 3 mini-episodes. So stay tuned!

Elisabeth Ignasiak: Yeah. And before we go, we would like to ask you a small favour – Do you have a friend who is interested in sustainability? Or maybe a colleague who loves to geek out about climate change? Or you think your brother or sister would just loooove our intro music and might just keep listening? Send them this episode! 

Chinmai Gupta: Thank you for listening. And see you next time! Bye-bye!

Elisabeth Ignasiak: Bye!