Clean energy is a win-win because it’s safer for the environment and saves you money.
It is fast becoming a myth that sustainability increases spending.
Substantial improvements in energy efficiency are taking place in the European Union. The policies pursued by EU members are succeeding in reducing consumption, safeguarding Europe’s security of supply, reducing CO2 emissions, creating jobs and saving consumers money.
The next step is deciding to use clean energy at home and at work as a way of living out these huge decisons that are being taken to improve our environment.
Clean, Green and Renewable Energies
Clean energy comes from renewable and zero-emission sources. It does not pollute the atmosphere when used and allows savings through energy efficiency measures.
There is a degree of crossover between clean, green and renewable energy sources, but they are not exactly the same:
- Clean energy is energy gained from sources that don’t release air pollutants
- Green energy is energy derived from natural sources
- Renewable energy is power generated from sources that are constantly being replenished
While most green energy sources are renewable, not all renewable energy sources are seen as being green. For example:
- Hydroelectric power is a renewable resource, but some argue that it is not green because it is associated with deforestation and industrialisation around its facilities
- Nuclear power is culturally complex. While in the United States it is part of the national clean energy portfolio, in Europe there is no single view on it
The right blend of clean energy is achieved when green energy is combined with renewable energy, as is the case with solar and wind energies.
An easy way to remember the differences between these different energy types is:
- Clean energy = clean air
- Green energy = natural sources
- Renewable energy = recyclable sources
This article will focus on clean energies at home.
Clean Energy Replaces Fossil Fuels
The shift to clean energy is relatively new; we have been using fossil fuels for centuries. This is probably this is the main reason why clean energy still doesn’t meet our needs, and means that it’s often complemented with other controversial sources.
Our energy needs will be balanced through the efficient storage of clean energy for consumption – when demand exists. Work is underway to improve infrastructure and storage capacities, and it’s estimated that fossil fuels could be replaced by 2050.
Clean Energy Reduce Global Warming
As our consumption of fossil fuels increased, so did the release of greenhouse gases. These gases trap heat in the atmosphere, raising the Earth’s temperature. This global warming is one of the symptoms of climate change, which has led to an increase in extreme weather events, changes in the habitats of flora and fauna, and rising sea levels, among other things.
As clean energy does not emit greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, it doesn’t contribute to global warming. This keeps climate change from advancing, and together with measures such as reforestation to mitigate the damage already done to the climate, combining helps to reduce global warming.
Clean Energy Helps Our Economy
There are financial benefits associated with clean energy, related to job creation to improve infrastructure, and to manufacture, install and maintain its solutions. Clean energy is a growing sector as the world moves away from fossil fuels, meaning that more opportunities will arise in areas ranging from e-mobility to energy generation and storage.
The experiences involved in developing these next generation energy solutions can benefit those who adopt them, generating new jobs and contracts.
The financial implications of clean energy are only part of the story, as the real incentive is to create a better future for us and the planet. However, as the use of fossil fuels declines, so will the associated financial rewards.
Clean Energy Saves Money
Some people may feel discouraged by the price involved in switching to renewable energy sources – installing solar panels on the roof of their home costs thousands of euros. However, using solar energy will also generate savings on electricity bills. This means that, over several years, using solar panels will pay-off.
Although making the switch to solar panels -or any other form of renewable energy- is a commitment, it is one well worth making. Not only will you be doing your bit to protect the environment, but it is a long-term investment that will help you save money in the near future!
Clean Energy to Consider at Home…
We can harness the sun’s rays to power the entire house, either through photovoltaic cell panels or by designing passive solar houses. Passive solar houses receive the sun through south-facing windows – in the northern hemisphere – and retain the heat through materials that can store it.
Some solar houses generate more than enough electricity, allowing the owner to sell excess energy to the grid – in countries where this is allowed. Batteries are also an economically attractive way to store the surplus of solar energy so that it can be used at night. Scientists are intensively working on new developments that combine form and function, such as solar shingles.
…Geothermal Heat Pumps
Geothermal technology is a new version of a recognisable process: the coils at the back of your refrigerator are a mini-heat pump that draws heat from inside to keep food cool. At home, geothermal or geo-exchange pumps use the constant temperature of the earth (a few metres below the surface) to cool houses in summer and heat them in winter, and even to heat water.
Geothermal systems can initially be expensive to install, but they usually pay themselves off within 10 years. They are also quieter, require less maintenance and last longer than traditional air conditioners.
…Small Wind Systems
A backyard wind farm? Boats, ranchers, and even cell phone companies use small wind turbines. Dealers now help site, install, and maintain them for homeowners, too – if you are a DIY enthusiast you can even install the turbine yourself. Depending on your electricity needs, wind speeds and turbine may reduce your reliance on the electrical grid.
…Sell the Excess Energy You Produce
Homes using wind and solar energy may or may not need to be connected to the grid. In most countries, electricity companies allow homeowners to pay only for the difference between the electricity consumed by the grid and the electricity they produce, a process called net metering.
Also, in some regions, if you produce more electricity than you consume, your supplier may pay you for the energy you deliver to the grid.
Renewable Energy and You
Advocating for clean energies, or using them in your home, can accelerate the transition towards a better future. Even if you aren’t yet able to install solar panels, you may be able to opt for electricity from a clean energy source. If renewable energy isn’t available through your provider, you can purchase renewable energy certificates to offset your use.
The results are encouraging! Take Germany, for example.
And Last but not Least, the Clean Energy Challenge
The Clean Energy Challenge is an effort by individuals, businesses and organisations from all over the world to bring systemic change to displacement settings by replacing unsustainable energy with clean, modern energy sources that can be used for households, community services and humanitarian operations.
What do you think? What are you doing to this regard?
- European Commission
- Clean Energy Solutions Centre
- Green Building Council Denmark – DGNB
- Clean Energy Wire
- The UN Refugee Agency
- Via Pixabay