Selling Gas to Build Wind Turbines: A Green Step Forward?

Ecotricity natural gas image

Image credit: Ecotricity

UK wind energy developer Ecotricity's stance on green energy supply has long been controversial. Instead of guaranteeing that it purchases all of its energy from green sources, as most of its rivals do, it has instead guaranteed it will invest its profits into building new generating capacity - arguing that this is the most effective way of cutting carbon emissions. Now it looks set to take a further step into the fossil fuel arena - supplying customers with natural gas, and channeling those profits into greener supply too. The question is—will it fly with customers? Is this a logical step toward greener energy, or a muddying of the waters?Customers visiting the Ecotricity website are being asked about their gas supply—whether they use natural gas, who supplies it, and how important is it to have a convenient 'one stop shop' for both gas and electricity. Crucially, the survey also states that Ecotricity would use profits from natural gas to support 'greener outcomes', and asks whether this would be important to customers.

It's an interesting question. On the one hand, supplying fossil fuels to fund green energy seems a little ironic. on the other hand, a huge number of homes in the UK are heated by natural gas, and use it as a cooking fuel—and that's not likely to change in the near future. So why shouldn't green crusaders like Ecotricity—developers of beautiful urban wind turbines and developers of a 100mph electric car—get a piece of the action and use it for the good?

If comment's on founder Dale Vince's latest blog post are anything to go by, the company's customer base remains divided. From the predictably skeptical "How on earth is supplying Gas (a non renewable resource) in line with any of the companies policies? Is the colour of money tainting your vision Dale?" to the supportive "I hate the fact that at present I have to buy my gas from one of the big six who can then spend my money on new coal or nuclear plants. I'd much rather it went to Ecotricity."

So what does our readership think? Can natural gas be used as a force for good, or should Ecotricity stay well clear?

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