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Australia’s greenest energy companies

Which Australian power companies really care about the environment? Find out with the Finder Green Awards.

Updated . What changed?

Fact checked
So who are the greenest providers? See list of greenest providers
What else should I know about green energy? Read more

We’re committed to our readers and editorial independence. We don’t compare all products in the market and may receive compensation when we refer you to our partners, but this does not influence our opinions or reviews. Learn more about Finder.

We launched the Finder Green Awards in 2020 to recognise environmentally friendly companies in a range of the categories that we compare. We know that lots of our customers are passionate about taking action on climate change but when it comes to industries like energy, insurance or banking it's not always clear which companies are actually doing their bit. The Finder Green Awards solves this problem and gives you the answers you need.

With limited publicly available data in this space we decided to make this a submission-based awards program and sent entry forms to every provider we could think of in each of the categories we announced. We were delighted with the response, making it hard to pick finalists in each category. You can find a full list of winners and finalists on the Finder Green Awards hub page.

What makes an electricity provider green?

The energy category is a particularly important one for the Finder Green Awards. Almost every electricity company wants you to think that it is enthusiastically committed to renewable energy, but the energy industry in Australia still creates a very high proportion of our national emissions.

In this sector some energy retailers generate the electricity they sell while others just sell electricity generated by other companies. It is hard to compare these two types of energy companies so we split them into two categories:

  • Traditional retailers – for companies that also generate electricity
  • Retail-only retailers – for companies that just sell electricity

Traditional retailers

By far the most important factor for the sustainability credentials of a traditional retailer is how it generates electricity. Large energy retailers that use coal or gas power stations to generate electricity have an enormous carbon footprint while energy retailers that use renewable energy sources like wind or solar farms have a much lower carbon footprint. For this reason, over half of the points available for traditional retailers were based on how they generated energy. Other factors we considered included carbon offsets, GreenPower pricing and support for clean technologies like residential solar panels or electric vehicles. For a full breakdown of the weightings of each of these categories you can view the Finder Green Awards 2020 methodology document.

Retail-only retailers

These retailers do generate energy so we can't score them for how environmentally friendly their energy generation is. This meant we focused more on the other areas mentioned previously. Carbon offsets and GreenPower data points made up a much larger part of the scoring methodology, as did support for clean technology like residential solar, electric vehicles and demand response. For a full breakdown of the weightings of each of these categories you can view the Finder Green Awards 2020 methodology document.

So who are the greenest providers?

Powershop was the winner of the Green Energy Retailer of the Year award for traditional retailers while a Energy Locals won the Green Energy Retailer of the Year award in the retail-only category. Both companies really impressed us and this guide will unpack why.

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Powershop: Greenest provider (Traditional)

Powershop is one of the heavy hitters in the renewable energy space so it's no surprise that it came out on top in this Finder Green Awards category. It generates 100% of electricity from zero emissions electricity sources like wind farms and it also offers carbon-neutral plans at standard for all customers in Australia. Not only this but it has impressive environmental targets in place and has launched a number of innovative initiatives to support clean technology in Australia such as launching a "Super Off-Peak" tariff to support customers who are charging their electric vehicles at night.

Honourable mentions in this category should also go to the other finalists Red Energy and Origin. Red Energy scored particularly well for generating over 90% of its energy from renewable sources while Origin continues to offer government-backed GreenPower at some of the lowest prices on the market.

Here's how Powershop performed in a number of key areas of the Green Award.
CategoryMetricWhy it does well
Emissions from energy generation assets

(60% of overall score)

Emissions intensity of generationPowershp came out on top here as it only owns renewable energy generation sites like the Mt Mercer Wind Farm. This means 100% renewable energy and zero emission.
Renewable energy generatedAgain, Powershop came out on top here. None of its energy comes from coal or oil, with 100% of it produced by renewable sources.
GreenPower, carbon offsets and support for clean technology

(20% of overall score)

100% GreenPower price and customer uptakeOrigin was the cheapest when it comes to the additional cost of getting 100% GreenPower. Powershop had the highest proportion of customers choosing to pay for 100% GreenPower though.
Carbon-neutral plansEvery single one of Powershop's energy plans are certified carbon-neutral, so it got the maximum score available in this category.
Average price on solar feed-in tariffsHigher solar feed-in tariffs reward customers for greater solar generation. Powershop and Red Energy both scored well here.
Corporate environmental performance, reporting and targets

(20% of overall score)

Emissions intensityPowershop scored the best in this category, with the fewest tonnes of CO2 emitted per million dollars of revenue.
Renewable energy usedPowershop got full marks here by walking the talk and using 100% GreenPower in its corporate offices in Australia.
Public emissions reduction targetThe public emissions target set by Powershop was the most impressive of all three companies promising to halve its operational emission by 2030.

Energy Locals logo

EnergyLocals: Greenest provider (Retail-only)

Energy Locals rose to the top in the retail-only category despite only being in existence since 2016. Since then it has made sustainability one of its main focuses and this has resulted in some amazing outcomes. In particular it was its efforts in promoting clean technology that set it apart. It offers a strong feed-in tariff rate for solar customers and is leading the way on demand management through its partnership with Amber. It has also played a pivotal role in the South Australia virtual power plant which is creating a very innovative approach to energy storage. It offers carbon-neutral energy plans at no extra cost to all customers and very competitively priced GreenPower.

Honourable mentions in this category go to the other finalist Enova Energy which is another young company making waves in the energy sector. It also offers carbon-neutral energy as standard and gives half of its profits back to the community via energy efficiency, education and community projects. It couldn't match Energy Locals for support for clean technology but it's certainly one to watch for the future.

Here's how Energy Locals performed in a number of key areas of the Green Award.
CategoryMetricWhy it does well
GreenPower, carbon offsets and compliance with Renewable Energy Target(52% of overall score)100% GreenPower price and customer uptakeEnergy Locals and Enova Energy both offer affordable 100% GreenPower options for less than 4 cents per kWh. Energy Locals had the highest proportion of customers choosing to pay for 100% GreenPower though.
Carbon-neutral plansBoth Energy Locals and Enova Energy both got full marks here for offering certified carbon-neutral plans to all customers as standard.
Support for clean technology

(28% of overall score)

Average price on solar feed-in tariffsSolar feed-in tariffs effectively pay customers for energy from their solar panels that the custom doesn't use. Energy Locals came out top here offering very competitive rates for this energy.
Support for energy storageEnergy Locals came on top here thanks to the role it is playing in the South Australia "virtual power plant" which is on the cutting edge of energy storage innovations in Australia.
Support for electric vehiclesEnova Energy scored well here thanks to its involvement in supporting the Byronshire Council for EV charging stations within Byron Bay
Support for demand responseEnergy Locals scored highest here thanks to its partnership with Amber Electric which offers a spot price pass through model that enables customers to take advantage of spot wholesale prices and recommends good and bad times to use or conserve power.
Corporate environmental performance, reporting and targets

(20% of overall score)

Emissions intensityBoth Energy Locals and Enova Energy scored well in this area with less than 1 tonne of carbon emissions emitted for each million dollars of revenue.
Renewable energy usedEnergy Locals came on top here with over 70% of the energy it uses as a company coming from renewable sources.

What else should I know about green energy?

Hopefully this guide has given you an idea of how we assess energy retailers on how sustainable they are. There are lots of confusing phrases in this space though so what do they all mean?

GreenPower

GreenPower is an initiative that allows energy customers to pay extra to ensure more renewable energy is fed into the power grid. You purchase a level of GreenPower from your retailer, which will then purchase that percentage of your total energy use from renewable sources. In this way, you're ensuring greater investment and use of renewables.

The GreenPower program is supported by the government and is independently audited. All renewable power provided through the program is in addition to the government's Renewable Energy Target. Not all companies offer GreenPower, so those that sell it are generally more committed to renewables as a whole.

Carbon-neutral energy

Carbon neutrality can be a confusing concept. At a basic level it means that the environmental impact of an activity or company is offset with carbon credits. Carbon credits are where things get confusing. They are created and sold by projects which are having a net positive impact on the amount of carbon in the atmosphere. These projects could be anything from tree planting schemes to carbon-capture programs to renewable energy generation. This means that a carbon-neutral energy plan will have net zero impact on the environment in the broadest sense but will not always mean more renewable energy is generated. If you're interested, we've got more information on carbon credits here.

Green Electricity Guide

While somewhat outdated at this stage, the 2018 Green Electricity Guide can still be used to get a general idea of the "greenness" of some Australian energy retailers. The guide was a joint initiative of Greenpeace and the Total Environment Centre that ranked energy companies across a wide range of factors.

These included many of the same criteria as our own Finder Green Awards, including renewable generation, fossil fuel policy, emissions and energy management schemes. Although the page is no longer updated, you can get some valuable information about energy retailers from as recently as two years ago.

GreenPower vs carbon neutral vs green ratings


If you're not sure what the best way to go green is, the best place to start is in your home. Did you know you can switch to a green energy provider even if you’re renting? Or that making your home more energy-efficient is good for both your hip pocket and the environment? Check out the latest guides, comparisons and news for everything you need to know about making the switch.

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