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Green Energy 101: What is Green Energy?

Posted on by Everything Energy 5 minutes, 6 seconds

It’s likely you’ve heard about “green energy” and “renewable energy” a lot in recent years, but exactly what is green energy? And how does green energy differ from renewable energy?

In this article, we’ll answer these questions, explore the benefits of green energy and show examples of it in use.

What is green power?

To grasp what green energy is, let’s take a look at the two main categories of power: conventional and renewable, and green energy is a form of renewable energy.

Conventional power

Conventional power is derived from sources like fossil fuels (coal, oil, and natural gas). These are finite resources that will run out. Conventional power also includes nuclear power, derived from splitting atoms that release energy.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) categorizes conventional power as the “least beneficial” of the three power sources.

Renewable energy

Renewable energy is made from sources that regenerate over short periods of time. These sources include wind, sun, moving water, organic plant and animal waste (biomass), and heat from the earth (geothermal).

The EPA rates renewable energy as “more beneficial” than conventional power.

Green energy

Green energy is a subset of renewable energy. While renewable energy offers substantial environmental benefits, it can still have tradeoffs. An example provided by the EPA notes that large hydroelectric resources can impact fisheries and land use.

Green power, then, represents the renewable energy sources (and technologies) that offer the greatest environmental benefit.

To qualify as “green power” in the U.S. voluntary market, renewable energy must exceed government mandates and regulations. Green energy generation often avoids mining and drilling that can damage ecosystems. It also does not produce pollution, which is something that even renewable energy generation could do. (Think:  burning organic material that releases carbon dioxide.)

In general, green energy comes from natural sources and doesn’t hurt the environment.

The EPA rates green energy as the “most beneficial” of the three power categories.

What are examples of green energy?

Many natural resources can be used to generate green energy. These include sunshine, wind, water, steam and more. Once converted to energy, it is all filtered together into the energy grid.

Solar energy

The power of the sun can be captured to create solar energy. Usually, solar panels are used to harvest the sun’s energy. Solar panels contain photovoltaic (PV) cells. These semiconductor cells convert sunlight into direct current (DC) electricity.

Using power conversion equipment, PV systems can then convert DC into alternating current (AC) that can be added to the energy grid. From there, it can be used to power common electronics and household appliances.

Wind energy

Harnessing the power of the wind using turbines is another way to make electricity. When wind turns the blades at the top of these tall, tubular towers, the blades turn a generator to create mechanical power. This is then converted to electrical power for the grid that we can use at home or work.

Hydroelectric energy

To make hydroelectric energy, also called hydroelectricity, water in motion is used to create power. As water approaches a downward drop, it gains potential energy. When the water drops downward, that energy is converted to kinetic energy. The water is used to turn the blades of a turbine, generating electricity.

Geothermal energy

Geothermal energy comes from heat that is produced below the Earth’s crust. In this process, the heat captured can be used directly for heat, or its steam can be used to generate electricity. In both cases, it’s a renewable resource, as the planet’s heat is constantly being regenerated by radioactive isotopes.

Why is green energy important?

Creating energy with a low- or zero-carbon footprint has a number of benefits. First, it’s a huge step toward minimizing our collective impact on the environment and cutting back on harmful greenhouse gas emissions.

Using green energy instead of conventional power also produces lower levels of air pollutants, and that’s a benefit to every living, breathing animal and human.

It’s also smart to develop a variety of energy solutions made from renewable sources. In addition to their harmful effects on the environment, fossil fuels are non-renewable and will eventually run out. What will we do then? Without other energy sources to rely on, our modern lives will be disrupted on nearly every level.

Plus, adding green energy and reducing reliance on conventional power can also help nations achieve energy independence.

How does green power work in homes and businesses?

Many people in Texas and other states have the power to choose renewable or green energy. It’s important to understand what that means.

Energy, regardless of the source it came from, merges when it enters the power grid. There’s no way to deliver only one type of energy or filter out others. That means your home or business will be powered by energy from several sources.

However, choosing an electricity plan offset by renewable or green energy credits still makes a difference. Part of your payment goes toward putting more renewable or green energy on the grid. In that way, you are supporting the growth and use of cleaner energy. And you’re also helping to lower the amount of CO2 emitted into the atmosphere.

What is green energy in action today?

Green energy can be found in use across the nation. You just have to know where to look! Here are a few examples of green energy solutions:

Heating and cooling systems in buildings

Solar water heaters, direct heat from geothermal and cooling systems powered by renewable sources are modern methods of temperature control in homes and offices.

Industrial processes

Hydrogen now provides much of the renewable energy used in the cement, iron, steel and chemical industries.


The automotive, aerospace and construction sectors are all actively researching electrification using renewable sources.


What is green energy? Now you know! And you also know the difference between green and renewable energy, examples of green energy and why it is important.

If you’re looking for home electricity made from renewable sources, look no further than Everything Energy. Simply enter your ZIP code to get started. Then, select “Renewable Option” from the Filters menu to find plans that meet your eco-friendly preferences.

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