You may be surprised to learn that renewable energy and green power are not synonymous! This is due to the fact that the two do not have the same source, have different effects on the environment and have different costs. In fact, green power is simply a subset of renewable energy. It often has higher environmental benefits and is defined as electricity produced from solar, wind, geothermal, biogas, biomass and low-impact small hydroelectric sources. Green power is appealing to many individuals who would like to have less of a negative impact on the environment and would like to contribute to greenhouse gas reduction efforts.
Green power sources produce electricity that is superior to conventional power technologies and resources. Green power sources produce zero greenhouse gas emissions. The EPA controls green power and requires that green power resources must have been built within the last 12 years (the voluntary market began on 1/1/97) in order to support new renewable energy development.
Renewable energy includes resources that rely on fuels that restore themselves over short periods of time and do not diminish. These sources are the sun, wind, moving water, biomass (organic plant and waste material) and geothermal energy. Some renewable energy technologies have an impact on the environment. Large hydroelectric resources can have environmental trade-offs associated with issues such as fisheries and land use.
Conventional power, which is the least environmentally beneficial, requires the use and combustion of fossil fuels as well as the nuclear fission of uranium. Fossil fuels have the added negative impact and cost of the environmental costs incurred from mining, drilling and extraction and as well as the added negativity of greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution (created during combustion). Nuclear power generation is positive in the sense that it emits no greenhouse gases during power generation, but does still require mining, extraction and long-term radioactive waste storage.
Anthropogenic emissions are produced through human activity that unnaturally releases CO2 emissions into the atmosphere. One of the largest sources of anthropogenic CO2 emissions is the combustion of fossil fuels or fossil fuel-based products to produce electricity. Biogenic emissions contrast starkly to anthropogenic emissions and result from the natural biological processes, such as the decomposition of vegetative matter. Biogenic emissions are part of a closed carbon loop. Biogenic CO2 emissions are balanced by the natural uptake of CO2 by growing vegetation, resulting in a net zero contribution of CO2 emissions to the atmosphere. Examples of biogenic emission sources include burning vegetation (biomass) to produce electricity or using plant-based biofuels for transport.
EnviroCitizen.org is extremely pleased to see an increase in research and technology in the area of green power. If you are still interested in alternative forms of power, consider researching green power further!