So just what is green energy? It sounds a bit like that spring in your step you get from chugging a kale and spinach smoothie on a Wednesday afternoon before the gym. But no, green energy is, in fact, the future of the world…
Green energy, also referred to as renewable energy or clean energy in America, is generated from natural and renewable energy sources that can be maintained and replenished. In a word, good.
Non renewable energy resources have been generated by finite resources such as oil or coal. In a word, bad.
Examples of green energy include solar energy, wind energy, geothermal energy, water power (hydroelectricity) and biomass.
We call these green energy sources types of renewable energy because unlike fossil fuels such as coal and oil, they won’t run out.
Despite the President of the United States Donald Trump cutting funds to green energy research (in a word, terrible), it’s become a pressing task for people and governments around the world to reduce their use of fossil fuels. Switching to green energy is a huge start and the time is now.
Types of renewable energy
We’ve ranked the types of renewable energy in order of the most efficient, according to Born to Engineer.
- Wind energy – Power obtained by harnessing the energy of the wind, done through wind turbines and wind farms onshore and offshore. You’ve probably seen some of them at the side of the motorway. Wind turbines convert the kinetic energy in the wind into mechanical power, which is in turn converted into electricity using a generator.
- Geothermal energy – Heat from the earth ranges from shallow ground to hot water and hot rock found a few miles beneath the earth’s surface and even deeper down where extremely high temperatures of molten rock called magma are found. Geothermal heat pumps can tap into this resource to heat and cool buildings.
- Water power (hydroelectricity) – Power derived from the energy created by falling water or fast running water, which may be harnessed for useful purposes. The most common type of hydroelectric power plant uses a dam on a river to store water in a reservoir. Water released from the reservoir flows through a turbine, spinning it, which in turn activates a generator to produce electricity.
- Biomass – Organic material that comes from plants and animals. When biomass is burned, the chemical energy inside is released as heat. Whether this qualifies as a green energy source is debatable though, as the burning of natural resources such as wood produce carbon emissions. However, as materials such as wood are renewable, we’ve included it.
- Solar energy – Radiant light and heat from the sun is harnessed using a range of ever-evolving technology such as solar heating. This could be through a solar panel on the roof of your home that converts light from the sun into electricity.
Right, we get that was a lot of science talk – well done for sticking with us.
If you didn’t follow all of that don’t worry, because you don’t have to understand how types of renewable energy are mined to utilise them in your own home.
So how do green energy tariffs work?
As it stands, about 47.5 per cent of the electricity in the National Grid comes from these renewable green sources, according to the Independent. The rest is generated by nuclear power plants or burning fossil fuels. Remember, that’s the bad stuff.
Therefore when you sign up to a green energy tariff, you may still get your electricity from the National Grid but your supplier works to balance out the difference. Good from them.
Some green energy suppliers such as Good Energy, Bulb and Green Star Energy don’t just offer green energy tariffs but produce 100 per cent renewable electricity and carbon neutral gas for customers. They’re the stars of this show.
There are three ways in which green energy tariffs work:
- Energy match: Your energy supplier promises to match some or all of the electricity you use by producing renewable energy that they then feed back into the National Grid.
- Green investment: Your supplier funds renewable energy infrastructure or projects.
- Carbon offset: Your supplier offsets the CO2 emissions from the energy you use by planting trees or investing in CO2 reducing projects.
Is green energy more expensive?
Well it certainly sounds great and we would all love to use green energy if possible, but the key question is how much more will it cost?
It used to be that opting to go green would hit you hard in the wallet. However, thanks to a more competitive and open energy market, there are now suppliers offering great value energy deals. In some cases, they’re among the cheapest out there.
Switch energy supplier
If you want to go green but still save money, WeFlip is here to help. When inputting your details, explain that you want a green energy tariff and we’ll find you the best available options. It takes just three minutes and could save you up to £350.
If you think it’s time to flip to green, get started with WeFlip.