The Benefits of Green Energy and Why it Matters
As responsible consumers and inhabitants of this planet, it’s important that we all know where our energy is coming from and what effect it is having on the environment. Not all energy is created equal, even though it achieves the same results for us. Fortunately, we now have the power to not only find out where our energy is coming from, but in many cases, choose where it comes from, too.
Let’s start by looking at the definition of green energy, and then we’ll explore the benefits and much more.
What does green energy mean?
Green energy is a term used to describe the energy that comes from renewable sources. This means that its production causes little or no negative environmental impact. It means that it doesn’t release toxic greenhouse gases into the atmosphere or require multiple means of transport that contribute to further pollution.
Sadly, the average American’s carbon footprint rises annually. This rise in pollution could be due to an increase in consumerism, demand for meat products, and using cars rather than walking or biking. This behavioral pattern is not unusual, but it’s also not good for the environment, which is why green energy is the best way forward.
Green energy is often referred to as clean, sustainable, renewable, or alternative energy, although alternative energies can also include less sustainable resources.
Why is it called green energy?
Green energy got its name because it comes from natural resources provided to us by the Earth. The color green is often associated with health, nature, and sustainability, so it makes sense that renewable energy is associated with the color that embodies nature.
What is renewable energy, and how does it work?
Renewable energy comes from resources that will not deplete over time. Natural resources like water, wind, and the sun provide the energy that we turn into electricity. Let’s take a closer look at the clean energy sources and how they work:
- Solar energy uses photovoltaic currents to convert sunlight into electricity. Solar power is a relatively accessible resource, and people can harness solar power industrially or individually by installing solar panels on small buildings and homes.
- Wind power uses turbines to generate kinetic energy that we then use to create electricity. The harnessing of wind power doesn’t require much human labor, and it is known as one of the most environmentally friendly resources.
- Hydropower captures power from large streams or rivers. This is done through the use of a turbine built into a dam.
- Biomass energy comes from energy crops and agricultural, urban, and industrial waste. Biomass can be harnessed by burning wood and energy crops grown specifically for this purpose. Wheat, sugar beet, sugar cane, and maize are often fermented to produce bioethanol.
- Geothermal power comes from the heat held within the fluids and rocks beneath the Earth’s crust. To harness geothermal energy from the steam and hot water, workers dig mile-deep wells into underground reservoirs. They then use this steam and hot water to power turbines connected to electricity generators.
What are the benefits of green energy?
For many people, sustainable energy's main draw is its reduction or offsetting of other harm done to the environment. Clean energy sources like wind and solar power are far superior options when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions. While installing wind turbines or solar panels in homes may not be possible for most people, we do have the power to choose utility providers that supply green energy. (Our customers have done just that, and you can do so, too. Click here to find out more.)
Green energy is also better for our physical health as it is far less responsible for polluting our air and water. According to the World Health Organization, household and ambient air pollution caused 4.2 million deaths globally in 20161. The majority of these deaths occurred in low- to middle‐income countries, especially Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific regions.
For this reason, we must focus more on renewable energy sources that cause less damage than their unsustainable counterparts, especially in less affluent countries.
Green energy sources like wind energy and solar power are far more sustainable options compared to fossil fuels. They offset the emission of oxide, nitrogen dioxide, and sulfur dioxide, saving huge amounts on healthcare spending. For instance, wind energy was responsible for $9.4 billion in American public health savings in 2018 alone. Renewable energy is also responsible for huge job creation and economic growth, employing at least 777,000 billion people. That’s the same as the entire telecommunications industry in the US.
Another clear advantage of green energy is that it comes from renewable resources. This means that the naturally occurring resources we use to harness this energy will not deplete over time. Solar power will always be available to us as the sun continues to shine, we’ll have access to wind energy as wind will always blow, and lakes, streams, and rivers will continue to provide us with hydropower. Each resource's consistency and reliability depend on the location; for example, the US is better suited to solar power than other less-sunny countries. Similarly, windy coastal areas will likely yield better results for wind farms, and there’s also more opportunity for offshore turbines.
Is green energy really clean?
The terms “clean energy” and “green energy” are often used interchangeably, but the two aren’t mutually exclusive and they don’t always mean the same thing. Clean energy deals with renewable resources that generate minimal carbon emissions during operations, whereas green energy refers to renewable energy sources generating zero carbon emissions.
Of course, certain resources are green and clean, like wind energy and solar power, but not all renewable resources are entirely green.
What is the cleanest source of energy?
The general consensus is that wind is the cleanest energy source. Wind power reduces our reliance on fossil fuels and, subsequently, the amount of dangerous CO2 that pollutes the air.
While direct pollution is important to note, it’s also worth remembering the indirect ways in which certain resources can cause pollution. For example, geothermal energy is a renewable and sustainable resource, but some energy is used to harness that energy. Power plants still require electricity, and maintenance workers must travel to these sites.
Wind, on the other hand, is extremely low-maintenance. Once installed, wind turbines need very little upkeep, and a technician is rarely required to travel to the site in person. Wind turbines also take up very little space and have minimal impact on the surrounding land, so it is relatively simple to install a large concentration of turbines in one space.
Wind energy is also a direct resource, which means that no canisters of oil need to be transported across the country.
Wind power also saves the use of a shocking amount of water. Wind turbines do not require water to produce electricity, so using them instead of thermal power plants saves billions of gallons of water each year. Last year, wind energy generation brought down water consumption at existing power plants by about 103 billion gallons. To put this into perspective, that equals around 723 billion bottles of water.
Speaking of water and wind energy, wind turbines are one of the only energy sources we can install and maintain offshore. Offshore wind farms provide an invaluable opportunity to harness powerful maritime winds without disturbing nearby residents.
Is green energy right for me?
Green energy sources are far better for the environment, so if you’re interested in using resources that are healthier and longer-lasting, green energy is certainly right for you.
Resources like wind power are also getting cheaper each year. One UK renewable report estimated that electricity generated from onshore wind or solar power could be supplied at half the cost of gas-fired power plants by 20252. This cost reduction often means that utility providers can offer customers fixed prices on energy for up to 25 years, hedging against fluctuating fuel costs.
So, what does all this mean for consumers?
It means access to cleaner, healthier energy that comes from environmentally responsible sources. It means steady and predictable prices and the knowledge that we are doing our bit to reduce our carbon footprint. Accessible renewables also mean that each individual can take accountability for their energy use without making dramatic or sudden lifestyle changes.
If this is something you’re passionate about, we’re with you! Inspire is on a mission to provide sustainable, healthy energy to our customers. We know the importance of reliability and longevity, which is why we make it easy to reduce our carbon impact together. We can do this by reducing the demand for less-sustainable resources like fossil fuels.
We’ll curate a custom clean energy plan that suits your household needs and provide you with a flat monthly subscription price, utilizing your original utility company connection so you won’t experience any service interruptions. Learn how to make the switch to Inspire and start making a difference today.