What Is Clean Energy? – Clean Vs. Renewable Energy
In 2019, renewable energy made up 17% of the total U.S. electricity generated, and this number is estimated to continue climbing. For an energy source to be considered “Clean” it must leave no negative effects on the environment. All renewable energy sources that do not cause pollution is considered a “clean energy” sources. While the term seems pretty self-explanatory, what is clean energy.
What is Clean Energy?
It’s pretty simple, clean energy will be produced through a method that will not cause any type of greenhouse gasses or other pollutants. With zero emissions, this type of energy comes from a renewable energy source and is highly efficient. Residential solar systems are just one example of clean power.
You may be wondering, “what is considered clean?” The most common forms of clean electricity are solar, wind, hydropower, geothermal, and biomass. Using clean renewable energy has many benefits including environmental and economic rewards.
Many people use the terms renewable and clean electricity hand-in-hand, but not all renewable energy is considered clean. We will talk more about the differences between the two in the next section.
Clean Energy Vs Renewable Energy
Energy that is clean will not harm the environment, but renewable energy is a bit different. Renewable energy is a term used to refer to any energy source that is not limited and can be renewed indefinitely. Many forms of energy are renewable, but not all renewable energy is clean. Some forms of renewable energy do have some negative environmental impact.
For example, the production of some types of solar cells generates toxic substances that could potentially contaminate water resources. To combat concerns about the substances used in solar panel production, many manufacturers and organizations are implementing regulations about recycling products to prevent contamination from product disposal.
Types of Clean Renewable Energy Sources
Clean electricity is an energy type that comes from renewable sources with zero emissions. The term clean energy is also used to refer to energy saved through efficiency measures. There are many types of clean electricity sources available to us.
Solar energy is probably the most well-known form of clean electricity. This type of energy is truly clean because it converts sunlight into power without producing emissions. Solar power is 100% renewable and efficient. It provides around 1% of our nation’s electricity. Also, solar systems don’t produce pollution and have little to no negative environmental impact beyond the manufacturing process. Solar panels are made from durable materials that will last for years to come.
Check out our blog to learn more about the different types of solar panels available on the market, and how this alternative energy source can help save you money on your monthly utility bills.
Wind energy, another form of clean energy, is one of the cleanest forms. It uses wind to produce sustainable power. It creates zero emissions and no pollution. Unlike the windmills of the past, modern turbines can be as big as skyscrapers! Wind energy turns the turbine blades, feeding an electric generator to create electricity.
Hydropower is the cheapest form of clean electricity. It does require the production of plants to produce this power from water, but the production costs can be as low as $0.10 per kWh. Large hydroelectric plants are sometimes criticized, as they reduce natural water flow impacting plants and people who rely on the water source. However, small carefully managed plants do not cause much environmental damage because they only divert a portion of the water flow.
Geothermal energy is naturally generated in places like natural hot springs. The earth’s core is very hot. To acquire geothermal energy, plants create underground wells that bring up very hot water to the surface. Then, the water is pumped through a turbine to create electric power. Geothermal plants then pump the water back into the underground reservoir which drastically reduces emissions. However, some experts worry that geothermal reservoirs may increase earthquake potential in areas already prone to quakes.
What Are The Benefits Of Clean electricity?
There are many benefits to using clean energy. For example, clean sources reduce our dependence on fossil fuel and may help mitigate the effects of climate change.
Some environmental and economic benefits of clean electricity use include:
- Energy without greenhouse gas emissions and reduced air pollution.
- Multiple supply sources for energy which reduce our dependence on imported fuel.
- Economic development including jobs in manufacturing and installation.
In the United States, more than a third of carbon emissions are created by fossil fuels like coal and natural gas. Making the switch to clean energy would reduce this number. It could also meet up to 40% of our energy demands as early as 2030.
What Is “Dirty Energy?”
Not all energy resources are clean. Resources that negatively impact the environment and have a finite supply are sometimes called “dirty energy.” This term refers to the energy created by burning fossil fuels.
What are fossil fuels? Here are some examples:
- Natural Gas
According to Green America, dirty energy is the leading cause of climate change. They advocate utilizing new technology to transition to clean power as soon as possible.
Is Clean Electricity-Efficient?
We know that clean energy is better for the environment but is it efficient? Efficiency depends largely on economics. Renewable energy sources don’t have to pay for fuel like non-renewables or “dirty energy.” There’s no price on sunshine and wind, it’s there whether we harness it for power or not. These free resources are clean and renewable, so using them to create power is inherently efficient.
When it comes to energy efficiency, we measure how efficient a source of energy is by comparing the amount of the resource’s total potential by how much is converted into energy. For example, solar panels convert approximately 20% of their acquired energy into useable power.
That might seem inefficient at first glance, but when you consider that automobiles also only convert 20% of the power in gas into useable energy, you begin to understand that it’s pretty efficient as far as energy sources go. Also, unlike gasoline, solar power doesn’t pollute the environment.
Choosing to use clean energy sources in your own home and advocating for their use in your community is a great way to help launch a clean and renewable future. One way to convert your home to a clean power source is by installing solar panels. Solar homes are very popular among those looking for a new home. Converting to solar can be easier than you may think.
Contact Harness Power to talk about what options you have when it comes to installing a solar system. There are many solar financing options available to you. You may be able to lease panels or receive payments for unused solar energy generated by your home solar system.