The Differences Between Renewable and Green Energy
People often confuse renewable energy and green energy to be the same thing, but it’s not quite as simple as that. Renewable energy isn’t always green, and vice versa. It’s become one of the many ways in which energy suppliers may differentiate themselves, as price and service aren’t always enough for customers anymore. But what exactly are the differences, and what should you be looking out for as a consumer?
It’ll be of no shock to anyone to hear that the conventional means of power such as coal, oil and natural gas are the least beneficial to the planet. Burning fossil fuels releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, which in turn contributes to the Earth’s harmful greenhouse effect. Most energy suppliers continue to sell energy produced from these conventional means, but as these resources are quickly depleting, suppliers will have to look to alternative sources.
Renewable energy is generally defined as energy that comes from a natural resource. Unlike conventional power, renewable energy regenerates in a short period of time and doesn’t deplete easily. Examples include tidal and municipal waste, but large hydroelectric dams (which do present certain environmental trade-offs) can also be considered as renewable. Over the last few years, renewable energy has in some cases become cheaper to produce than conventional power, so it’s a no-brainer to switch to these means where possible.
Green energy concerns power that is clean, sustainable or eco-friendly, and has a minimal impact on the environment and its resources. Clean energy does not emit any greenhouse gases and does not rely on fuel to produce the output (no carbon). Green power includes wind, solar, geothermal and biogas. Green energy does however rely heavily on the weather, so large quantities can be difficult to generate. There can sometimes be controversy over the installation of green power means though, as building a large-scale solar power system for example can disturb ecosystems and remove plant life – resulting in a negative effect on the environment. The trade-off though is unquestionable, as once installed, these natural resources like wind, water, sunlight and geothermal heat could potentially supply the entire country’s energy needs with surplus.
So, for those really wanting to minimise their impact on the Earth as much as possible, opting for green energy as opposed to renewable energy (or conventional energy) is the best way forward.