How clean is my electricity?

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Last updated: 06/30/2020
How clean is my electricity?

What is clean energy?

 Clean energy is produced from renewable, non-polluting sources.  This means harnessing energy from sources such as the sun or wind, which do not run out.  The main sources are:
  • Solar energy: Extracts energy from the sun using solar panels.
  • Wind power: Uses large turbines that turn from the wind to create energy.
  •  Hydropower: Uses the natural movement of water (rivers, tides) to drive turbines that turn it into electricity.
  • Geothermal: Uses heat energy from deep in the Earth to create electricity.
  • Bioenergy: Burns biomass from sustainable sources to generate energy.
  • Nuclear: Nuclear fission creates huge amounts of energy with zero carbon dioxide byproduct.
  • Hydrogen fuel cells: These use one of the most abundant elements on earth: hydrogen, to produce electricity with little or no CO2 emission.

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Benefits of Clean Energy

Energy from green, clean sources helps to dramatically reduce the amount of carbon that is released into the atmosphere, and helps to fight against climate change. On top of this, it avoids the use of fossil fuels, which are a scarce resource meaning that they may one day run out.
Clean energy also doesn’t release harmful pollutants into the air. The fossil fuel industry is by far the largest producer of polluting chemicals, which is harmful to our health. One third of the world’s deaths from lung cancer, strokes and heart disease can be attributed to air pollution.
On top of this, the creation of clean energy creates jobs, for those building and maintaining the infrastructure, particularly in areas where there may not have been much industry before. For example, the building solar panels in the desert can boost local economies.

How clean is my electricity?

The electricity that you use for your home is not necessarily any cleaner than anyone else’s. Electricity produced from different sources all feeds into the national grid system, and then goes from your regional grid to your property.
If you live in a state where you can choose who provides your energy, you may be able to help contribute to more clean energy being supplied to the grid.  If you live in states with competitive energy regulations, you can choose to buy your energy from clean energy sources, which means that the supplier will improve and expand their infrastructure using the money you spend.
No matter where you live, however, you can purchase Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs).  These are measured in power, (megawatts per hour), and the money that you use on them are then spent by clean energy companies on infrastructure.  You can then use these certificates to trade for other energy sources, making sure that the money you spend on your energy plans are being used on clean energy.

Green Energy for Your Home

Another way of increasing the amount of clean energy you use is to install renewable energy sources in your home.  The most popular options are to add solar panels or wind turbines to your house.
Although this can be an expensive upfront cost, it will reduce any bills you pay for energy.  And as technology improves, these costs are always falling and are becoming more affordable. If you also install batteries, you can store energy, meaning that you do not have to rely on the grid for power.  So you are protected in the case of a power cut.
If you live in areas where this is not possible (New York City for example), another option could be to invest in a community shared solar project.  This is where members of an area collectively invest in solar panels, and then those who invested get shares in the energy which comes from it.  This can be used as credit on your existing bills, meaning that you can get cheaper energy rates.
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