What is Green Energy?

Green Energy:

Green Energy, or Green Power, is a subset of renewable energy and represents those renewable energy resources and technologies that provide the highest environmental benefit. Today the term green is used all across the globe as a reference to living in a way that is environmentally friendly. 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 avoided environmental impacts and its greenhouse gas reduction benefits. Green power sources produce electricity with an environmental profile superior to conventional power technologies and produce no fossil-fuel based greenhouse gas emissions. EPA requires that green power sources must also have been built within the last 15 years in order to support "new" renewable energy development.

Renewable Energy:

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 (eligible biomass), and the earth's heat (geothermal). Although the impacts are small, some renewable energy technologies have an impact on the environment. For example, large hydroelectric resources can have environmental trade-offs associated with issues such as fisheries and land use.

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Conventional Power:

Conventional power includes the combustion of fossil fuels (coal, natural gas, and oil) and the nuclear fission of uranium. Fossil fuels have 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.

"Over 16 Billion Dollars of Electricity is unusable, but billable in the U.S."
- U.S. Department of Energy

Mainstream Renewable Technologies

Wind Power:

Airflows can be used to run wind turbines. Modern utility-scale wind turbines range from around 600 kW to 5 MW of rated power, although turbines with rated output of 1.5–3 MW have become the most common for commercial use. The power available from the wind is a function of the cube of the wind speed, so as wind speed increases, power output increases dramatically up to the maximum output for the particular turbine. Areas where winds are stronger and more constant, such as offshore and high altitude sites, are preferred locations for wind farms. Typical capacity factors are 20-40%, with values at the upper end of the range in particularly favorable sites.

Hydropower (Hydroelectricity):

Energy in water can be harnessed and used. Since water is about 800 times denser than air, even a slow flowing stream of water, or moderate sea swell, can yield considerable amounts of energy. There are many forms of water energy:
Hydroelectric energy is a term usually reserved for large-scale hydroelectric dams. Examples are the Grand Coulee Dam in Washington State and the Akosombo Dam in Ghana.Micro hydro systems are hydroelectric power installations that typically produce up to 100 kW of power. They are often used in water rich areas as a remote-area power supply (RAPS).Run-of-the-river hydroelectricity systems derive kinetic energy from rivers and oceans without the creation of a large reservoir.

Solar Energy (Solar Power, Solar Thermal Energy, Artificial Photosynthesis):

Solar energy applies energy from the sun in the form of solar radiation for heat or to generate electricity. Solar powered electricity generation uses either photovoltaics or heat engines (concentrated solar power). A partial list of other solar applications includes space heating and cooling through solar architecture, daylighting, solar hot water, solar cooking, and high temperature process heat for industrial purposes.
Solar technologies are broadly characterized as either passive solar or active solar depending on the way they capture, convert and distribute solar energy. Active solar techniques include the use of photovoltaic panels and solar thermal collectors to harness the energy. Passive solar techniques include orienting a building to the Sun, selecting materials with favorable thermal mass or light dispersing properties, and designing spaces that naturally circulate air. Solar energy capture is also being linked to research involving water splitting and carbon dioxide reduction for the development of artificial photosynthesis or solar fuels.

Biomass (Sustainable Biofuel):

Biofuels include a wide range of fuels which are derived from biomass. The term covers solid biomass, liquid fuels and various biogases. Liquid biofuels include bioalcohols, such as bioethanol, and oils, such as biodiesel. Gaseous biofuels include biogas, landfill gas and synthetic gas.
Bioethanol is an alcohol made by fermenting the sugar components of plant materials and it is made mostly from sugar and starch crops. With advanced technology being developed, cellulosic biomass, such as trees and grasses, are also used as feedstocks for ethanol production. Ethanol can be used as a fuel for vehicles in its pure form, but it is usually used as a gasoline additive to increase octane and improve vehicle emissions. Bioethanol is widely used in the U.S.A. and in Brazil. However, according to the European Environment Agency, biofuels do not address global warming concerns.
Biodiesel is made from vegetable oils, animal fats or recycled greases. Biodiesel can be used as a fuel for vehicles in its pure form, but it is usually used as a diesel additive to reduce levels of particulates, carbon monoxide, and hydrocarbons from diesel-powered vehicles. Biodiesel is produced from oils or fats using transesterification and is the most common biofuel in Europe.
Biofuels provided 2.7% of the world's transport fuel in 2010.

Geothermal Energy:

Geothermal energy is from thermal energy generated and stored in the Earth. Thermal energy is the energy that determines the temperature of matter. Earth's geothermal energy originates from the original formation of the planet (20%) and from radioactive decay of minerals (80%). The geothermal gradient, which is the difference in temperature between the core of the planet and its surface, drives a continuous conduction of thermal energy in the form of heat from the core to the surface. The adjective geothermal originates from the Greek roots geo, meaning earth, and thermos, meaning heat.

The heat that is used for geothermal energy can be from deep within the Earth, all the way down to Earth's core – 4,000 miles (6,400 km) down. At the core, temperatures may reach over 9,000 °F (5,000 °C). Heat conducts from the core to surrounding rock. Extremely high temperature and pressure cause some rock to melt, which is commonly known as magma. Magma convects upward since it is lighter than the solid rock. This magma then heats rock and water in the crust, sometimes up to 700 °F (371 °C).

From hot springs, geothermal energy has been used for bathing since Paleolithic times and for space heating since ancient Roman times, but it is now better known for electricity generation.

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