Much of the modern world relies on some kind of power source for a multitude of things such as lights, heat, and entertainment sources like televisions and computers. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “The U.S. energy supply is composed of a wide variety of energy resources; however, not all energy resources have the same environmental benefits and costs.”
Conventional power is achieved by the combustion, or burning, of fossil fuels such as natural gas, coal, and oil. “Fossil fuels have environmental costs from mining, drilling, or extraction, and emit greenhouse gases and air pollution during combustion.” (EPA)
Renewable energy is power that comes from sources that are able to renew themselves and regenerate within a relatively short period of time, unlike conventional power methods. Renewable energy sources include things like wind, sun (solar), moving water (hydropower), the Earth’s heat (geothermal), and “organic plant and waste material (eligible biomass).” Although large hydroelectric plants can effect fisheries and have other environmental issues such as land use, renewable energy sources are thought to be of low impact to the environment overall.
Green power “is a subset of renewable energy and represents those renewable energy resources and technologies that provide the highest environmental benefit. EPA defines green power as electricity produced from solar, wind, geothermal, biogas, eligible biomass, and low-impact small hydroelectric sources. Customers often buy green power for its zero emissions profile and carbon footprint reduction benefits.” (EPA) Green power greatly reduces the carbon footprint associated with our choice of power that we purchase.
Although renewable energy is…..well, renewable, there is still a cost involved in harnessing this type of power into a usable form for most households. Some of the factors involved in the cost are:
“Supply and demand variability
Volume of purchase (total megawatt-hours)
Resource and technology type (solar, wind, biomass)
Geography (local vs national)
Wholesale vs retail pricing” (EPA)
Despite the higher costs associated with green power, the environmental benefits far outweigh the monetary investment. The “environmental improvement benefits the broader public, not just program participants; everyone benefits from a cleaner environment regardless of who pays for it.”
For more information on recycling and renewable resources visit www.wasteawaygroup.com.