The following chart shows that green power is subset of renewable energy and that it represents those renewable resources that provide only the highest environmental benefits and includes solar, wind, biomass, biogas, low-impact hydro, and geothermal.
Renewable energy and GP – So what’s the difference?
Briefly, not all sources of power generation have the same environmental costs and benefits.
What is Green Power
GP sources produce electricity with an environmental profile superior to that of conventional power technologies and produce no anthropogenic (human caused) greenhouse gas emissions. The EPA requires that green power sources must also have been built since the beginning of the voluntary market (1/1/1997) in order to support “new” renewable energy development.
Renewable energy includes resources that rely on fuel sources that restore themselves over short periods of time and do not diminish. Such fuel sources include the sun, wind, moving water, organic plant and waste material (biomass), and the earth’s heat (geothermal). Although the impacts are small, some renewable energy technologies also can have an adverse impact on the environment. A good example are large hydroelectric dams that can have adverse environmental effects such as fisheries, wildlife habitats, and land use.
Conventional power sources are antiquated and include those we are most familiar with, such as the combustion of fossil fuels (coal, natural gas, and oil) and the nuclear fission of uranium. Fossil fuels have a high amount environmental costs from mining, drilling, or extraction, and emit greenhouse gases and air pollution during combustion. Although nuclear power generation emits no greenhouse gases during power generation, it does require mining, extraction, and long-term radioactive waste storage. Another point to consider with nuclear technology is accidents, spills, and disasters such as the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant Disaster, which is still a severe threat by the way.
Various types of emissions from conventional power sources:
Anthropogenic emissions are produced as a result of 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, in contrast, result from natural biological processes, such as the decomposition or combustion 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.
One thing we would like to point out here which are never included in the cost of the energy is the cost to the environment so comparisons to the cost of renewable vs sustainable energy are never accurate. The comparisons SHOULD include the environmental costs as well to get a better glimpse as to the overall costs of each source of energy. When we add up all the other ‘hidden’ costs of conventional energy like coal and oil like oil spills, pollution, climate change, health issues, the costs of this type energy goes up much, much higher and is estimated at over $120 billion per year in 2005 by the National Academy of Sciences.
We hope we have answered your question ‘What is Green Power’ and have convinced you that it is the only way to move forward seeing all the detrimental effects of our current antiquated sources for energy. Peace my friends!