Telling the truth about SME life today

Carbon-offsetting. Eco-policy. Energy efficiency. Greenwashing?

Jeremy Leggett is the founder of Solar Century, the biggest solar panel installation company in Britain. Solar Century’s key customers are the giants in the retail, residential and industrial sectors. Big boys with deep pockets. And yet uptake is minimal.

“We’ve done a couple of installations for Sainsbury’s, maybe half a dozen for Tesco,” says Leggett. It’s the tip of a very big, melting iceberg. “Considering we live in a world threatened with apocalypse through climate change, it’s a very tough business,” he continues.

It’s not just about the end users – the big, “brown” energy companies are trying desperately to push the “eco” button. But is it just lip service Dale Vince, founder of Ecotricity, the wind energy company, is sceptical.

“They all have their multi-million pound advertising campaigns on TV, full of windmills,” he says. “But consumers are more sophisticated than ever about green energy. They’re thinking, ‘You don’t actually have very many, do you?’

“We collect statistics each year that measure the commitment of each electricity company in the UK to green energy. We do this by measuring how much they’ve invested in building renewable energy sources that year. We publish our findings on a site called”

“In the four years we’ve been keeping count, our average spend per customer is about £430. For every pound a customer spends with us, we’re spending another pound building a windmill. The big guys are spending around £10 per customer. How serious are they really about green energy?”

Now’s your chance to name and shame. Who are the eco-heroes” And who’s faking it” Should there be a penalty for companies who over-emphasise their green credentialsLet us know.


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