Despite a tumultuous 2022, the U.S. is on the verge of a clean energy investment boom this decade. The nation’s renewables sector is poised for ‘staggering’ growth by 2030 due to increases in new solar, wind, and battery storage capacity.
More specifically, 358 GW of new solar, 137 GW of wind power, and 111 GW of new battery storage capacity could be delivered between 2023 and 2030, resulting in over 600 GW increment in total renewable capacity installed as of 2022.
If you’re a Texas homeowner looking to transition toward green energy, you may want to know: what is green energy? Why is it important to the environment, and what types of green energy sources are available out there?
Here are some great insights to help you make well-informed decisions.
What Is Green Energy?
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, green energy is energy that carries the greatest environmental benefit. In other words, this type of energy is produced from a source or using a method that causes the least harm to the natural environment.
Green energy examples include solar, wind, geothermal, and biogas. Low-impact, small-scale hydroelectric plants may also fall under this category.
While there’s an overlap between green, renewable, and clean energy, these three sustainability terms do not mean the same thing. Subtle differences exist and they must be clarified to better understand what green power is.
Renewable Energy vs Green Energy
Any energy source that constantly replenishes itself over relatively short periods is considered renewable. Renewable energy sources do not get depleted. They include fuel sources such as:
- Moving water
- Hot springs
- Biomass from eligible plants and waste material
While the above types of renewable energy can deliver substantial benefits to users, some technologies and products can have considerable environmental trade-offs. As a result, not all renewables can be considered as green energy sources.
For example, large hydroelectric resources can have a significant environmental impact due to the infrastructure and processes needed to generate hydropower.
Clean Energy vs Green Energy
As the name suggests, clean energy is any form of energy that, when used, causes little or no air pollution. It mostly includes renewables such as solar, wind, hydropower, nuclear, geothermal, and bioenergy.
While clean energy sources reduce greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution, the processes involved in producing power may have a significant impact on the environment.
For instance, nuclear energy is a zero-emission clean energy source, but it uses non-renewable energy resources and produces waste byproducts. These aspects rule it out as an entirely green energy source.
Why Is Green Energy Important to the Environment?
The green energy revolution marks a shift from traditional fossil fuels, such as oil, natural gas, and coal, to clean, renewable energy sources. The environmental benefits of green energy include the following:
Reduced Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Harnessing green energy helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions. These emissions increase the concentration of carbon gases in the atmosphere, contributing to global environmental health issues, such as climate change and global warming.
Preservation of Finite Energy Resources
Tapping green energy shifts attention to the use of renewable energy resources. The infinite supply of renewables ensures the preservation of limited non-renewable energy sources, thus promoting sustainability.
Reduced Air Pollution
Using green energy sources helps minimize air pollution. Clean air promotes good health in humans and other animal species.
By reducing carbon emissions, air pollution, and the use of finite non-renewables, green energy can be key to a more sustainable future.
What Are the Different Types of Green Energy?
As you consider ways to become environmentally friendly, you should know the different types of green energy sources. Each has unique features, pros, and cons that should be considered before making an investment decision.
Solar power is one of the most abundant renewable energy sources on the planet. It is a clean source of energy that can be used in many ways. Today, solar is most commonly used to heat water, warm buildings, and power electrical devices.
However, different technologies and products are used to perform these functions.
For example, solar photovoltaic (PV) panels are used to generate electricity. This can be stored in solar batteries for later use in homes. On the other hand, solar thermal collectors are used for heating water directly.
Solar panels require proper sizing, placement, and installation to operate at peak energy efficiency. Regular maintenance is also crucial to maximize their performance and lifespans.
Are you aware that wind energy is a byproduct of the sun?
The uneven heating of the earth’s surface by the sun combines with other factors to create wind. Provided the sun shines, wind energy remains an abundant renewable energy source. And it’s clean too, as it does not release any greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
Wind turbines are used to harness wind energy. These devices have large blades that rotate to convert the kinetic energy of wind to electricity.
Wind speeds generally increase with altitude. The best places to build turbines include:
- The tops of smooth, rounded hills
- Mountain gaps that funnel and intensify wind
- Open plains and water
Homeowners, businesses, and industries can use clean, distributed wind energy to generate electricity for their needs. The size and capacity of the turbines will vary depending on their energy needs.
Hydroelectric power, also known as hydropower, is the largest renewable energy source for electricity in the U.S. This form of energy uses fast-moving water to produce electricity.
As the fast-moving water descends from an elevated position, it turns a turbine, which then converts the kinetic energy of the water into electrical energy.
In the U.S. and across the world, large hydropower plants are generally not considered a green energy source because they produce reservoir carbon emissions. On the other hand, small-scale hydroelectric plants, when carefully managed, do not typically have as much ecological footprint.
One of the factors that makes biogas stand out from the rest as a green energy source is its use of waste products. Biogas is produced when organic materials, such as food, sewage, manure, and agricultural waste decompose.
The decomposition process occurs in a tank or container called a biodigester. Biodigesters are airtight systems that provide the oxygen-free environment necessary to break down organic waste and produce biogas.
Some common uses of biogas include:
- Heating rooms or buildings
- Fueling cars
- Producing electricity
- Displacing carbon dioxide in on-site CHP plants
Additionally, the waste placed in the biodigester becomes nutrient-rich organic fertilizer, which can be used in farms and home gardens.
We don’t talk about geothermal energy as much as we should, but that does not make it any less significant as a green energy source.
Geysers and sinter-forming springs are the most common sources of geothermal energy in the U.S. These energy sources use heat from the earth’s core to turn a steam or water turbine for electricity generation.
Geothermal power is a green energy source because its generation does not create greenhouse gas emissions, and its resource supply is infinite. That said, there are concerns that creating geothermal plants in areas earmarked as geological hotspots can heighten the risk of earthquakes.
Biomass power plants use combustible organic materials such as sawdust and wood waste to create energy. The chemical energy produced from burning the materials is used to generate electricity with a steam turbine.
Although biomass is renewable, it requires careful management to be considered as a green energy source. As with traditional fossil fuels, the burning of materials used in biomass production can release greenhouse gases, which can destroy the environment.
What Does Going Green Mean for You and Your Home?
Do you want to be among those using green energy to make a difference? As a Texas homeowner, you can reap several benefits from investing in green energy. These benefits include the following:
Increased Energy Independence
Shifting to green energy sources like solar and biogas can mean reducing your reliance on the national grid electricity, as well as coal and gas. This means you won’t be affected by supply disruptions and high prices.
Green energy systems like solar and biogas are completely free to use once installed. Additionally, you may be eligible for tax incentives and rebates that help lower the cost of your initial investment or start-up cost.
Increased Property Value
Many modern homebuyers attach a higher value to properties that use green energy. Green energy installations will help boost the resale price of your home.
Additionally, embracing clean and renewable energy can help decrease your household’s carbon footprint and bring the promise of a more sustainable future closer.
Ready to Leverage Green Energy Solutions in Your Home?
Questions like, “What is green energy?” can be daunting for the average homeowner to answer. Armed with the above information, they can push for green energy technologies and products and use them in their homes.
At Chariot Energy, we offer a wide range of renewable energy solutions to homeowners who want to make the switch toward a clean, renewable energy future. Find an energy plan that works for you and your family. We offer some of the most competitive rates in Texas.
Choose our 100% renewable energy plans and benefit from our Solar Buyback options. Embrace a sustainable future now: Chariot Energy’s Solar Buyback Plans.