How are animals used by the energy industry?
In 2017, SSE was accused of providing energy from a power plant burning dead salmon from Scottish fish farms. In 2022, an investigation by energy company Ecotricity, published by ITV News, found that dead cows, hunt dogs, partridges and foxes were being used to generate energy.
Believe it or not, using animals or animal by-products to produce electricity is not uncommon in the UK.
There are two key processes for generating electricity that are connected to animal exploitation: biomass generation and anaerobic digestion. These processes can use everything from dead animals and slaughterhouse waste to manure and slurry from animal farms.
Energy company Ecotricity says, “Animals are exploited to produce about 1% of the UK’s energy, which goes to around 60% of homes.”
We’re not quite sure where they got that figure from. Looking at the statistics that the government has published on the topic, 1% of electricity (as opposed to energy, which would include gas) seems about right.
According to the UK government's figures, animal biomass accounts for around 0.5% of UK energy supply and anaerobic digestion accounts for about 2.5%, including animals and plant matter.
What is vegan energy?
Vegan energy is essentially ‘animal free’. It excludes all sources of energy that have used animals.
Luckily, there are lots of alternative sources of renewable energy, such as wind and solar, where use of animals isn’t a problem.
Biogas is more complicated, as this is often from animal products. However, it can be produced using only organic plant matter (although this has potential environmental problems of its own).