With a number of similar terms in the world of renewables, many are wondering what is clean energy and what are the sources associated with it? Understanding the line between dirty energy and clean energy can be more complicated than one might think and our research shows that one of the roadblocks that discourages people from purchasing clean energy systems is the combination of too many options and too little information. To help clear the way forward for everyone, we’ve created the following simple, top-line primer to lay the foundation for learning more about clean energy options that are available to you.
With so many synonymous terms for renewable energy, many are wondering “what is green power?” and how it can be distinguished from general alternative or renewable energy sources.
Renewable energy is a particularly hot issue in this year’s presidential election. At the end of 2015, the U.S. joined 195 other nations in signing a UN agreement that committed to an aggressive climate change reduction strategy. Additionally, the Obama Administration is now in the process of defending its much-discussed Clean Power Plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Congress also extended solar and wind tax credits and lifted the U.S. oil export ban in the 2016 spending bill – two controversial policies for today’s candidates with their eye on the presidency.
Most of us are completely unaware of how the electricity we use is generated. We just put the plug in the outlet and forget about it. Unfortunately, this is one of those situations where ignorance is definitely not bliss! Understanding where your power originates is crucial in an energy efficiency standpoint.
For anyone wondering where their energy comes from, the chart above displays the sources of our power usage nationwide and can offer insight about output sources. No surprise: the decisions that determine this mix are made by your utility company with their best interests in mind. Sources are chosen on the basis of factors such as cost, availability, and reliability of supply. That’s how coal came to fuel almost half of the U.S.’s electrical needs. It’s cheap, it’s plentiful and it’s relatively easy to mine. What didn’t factor into the utility’s decision were things like the environmental impact of their choices–costs not borne by them but by you, me, and the communities in which we live. Nonetheless, the recent ITC extension and Paris Agreement are two reasons pointing to an approaching overthrowal of fossil fuels by the renewable industry.
Solar Lease/PPA vs Viridian vs EverSource Green
In Part 1 of Going Solar with No Money Down we introduced four ways to power your home with renewable energy for little or no upfront costs: solar leases, solar power purchase agreements (PPAs), Viridian Energy, and EverSource Green. So, now that you know what your options are, let’s weigh them against one another to see how they measure up.
For now, solar seems to be winning the popularity contest among clean energy systems. While solar is a great option, it’s by no means the only one, and it isn’t the right choice for everyone. There’s a wide array of clean energy technologies to choose from, and most homes and businesses are suitable for more than one of them. So, what do you need to know to determine which one is best for you?
On some level, we all know we should do something to reduce our energy costs, but where to start to achieve that goal is less clear. Should we reduce our consumption by making efficiency improvements (e.g. installing energy efficient lighting, replacing old windows, adding insulation, etc.)? Or, should we focus on reducing the cost of the energy we’re using by installing a clean energy system such as solar, wind or geothermal system? Both approaches make a lot of sense. Here are some points to consider that may help you to decide.
There’s nothing as immutable as the basic laws of supply and demand. Right? Well, a recent CNN blog post is saying not so fast. With worldwide demand for oil low, CNN’s blogger asks, “so why is oil trading high at $113 a barrel, more than twice the price it was trading at five years ago when the global economy was booming? What in the world is going on?”
There are a lot of things that motivate people to switch to clean energy systems. Energy independence doesn’t usually top the list, although it’s usually included in the mix. Lately, though, it looks like Energy Independence may start to mount a strong challenge to other motivators such as cost savings and environmental benefits for the top spot.
This recent blog post “For Retirement Savings, Solar Power Is a Better Bet Than the Stock Market” from thedailygreen.com shows how one octogenarian couple is using renewable energy to stretch their savings and contain costs in retirement. While this post focuses on solar photovoltaics, any clean energy system—solar, wind, geothermal or biomass—can produce the same benefits.