When it comes to clean energy vs. renewable energy, do you understand the difference? Maybe you’re like most homeowners seeking solutions to help you live sustainably. If so, you’ve certainly come across the terms clean and renewable energy.
Both serve as alternative energy sources to fossil fuels, and both are necessary if we want to decarbonize our world. While these are sustainable solutions, they’re not the same thing.
We’ve discussed the difference between clean and renewable energy before, and this guide will cover valuable tips for embracing a sustainable lifestyle and making better decisions reflecting your desire and passion for going green.
What Is Clean Energy vs. Renewable Energy?
By definition, clean energy is a sustainable energy source that doesn’t pollute the atmosphere and helps minimize the accumulation of greenhouse gasses. Clean energy sources are a popular substitute for fossil fuels because they’re not from dirty sources, and they reduce the buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
Here are some examples of clean energy sources:
- Nuclear power
- Solar energy
- Geothermal energy
- Wind power
Remember, there’s much overlap between the terms “clean” and “renewable” energy. So much so that people often use the terms interchangeably. In some cases, renewables can be clean energy, too. For example, solar power is clean and renewable because it doesn’t rely on fossil fuels to generate electricity, and there’s no depletion. Wind power is another prominent example since the turbines harness wind energy via a generator to create electricity.
More and more companies are diversifying their energy sources by switching to alternative, non-fossil fuel solutions. Solar remains very popular among developers. In fact, they plan to use solar energy for 54% of its generation projects in 2023. Not only is it vitally clean, but its abundance is difficult to match.
For homeowners, residential solar power translates to greater energy efficiency and a reduction in their environmental impact.
The difference between renewable and clean energy comes down to whether or not a renewable source qualifies as a clean source—meaning it releases zero carbon emissions or other greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere.
For example, biomass energy involves the combustion of feedstock to produce electricity. When we burn biomass, we release carbon monoxide and other pollutants into the atmosphere. Hydropower, using water movement to generate electricity, is often hailed as both renewable and clean. However, the dams that store water produce carbon dioxide and methane, two prominent greenhouse gases.
As you can see, the similarities and differences can get complex, so to help you understand both, remember this: Renewable sources aren’t always clean, and clean energy is not always renewable. Understanding which renewable sources are more sustainable will better position you to go green.
In the next section, we’ll dive deeper into the benefits and drawbacks of each energy type to help you develop a coordinated plan for limiting your carbon footprint.
Pros and Cons of Clean vs. Renewable Energy
What are the pros and cons of clean and renewable energy? As with all energy types, both sources have benefits and downsides. Understanding their implications is critical for embracing a climate-friendly lifestyle.
Pros of Clean Energy
As stated earlier, clean energy sources are clean because they don’t release greenhouse gas emissions. The implications of this are substantial because they help us slow the rate of climate change and mitigate its environmental impacts.
Since clean energy reduces overall dependency on fossil fuel production, it can improve human health. Burning fossil fuels increases water and soil contamination while releasing dangerous gasses into the atmosphere. Clean energy helps reduce premature deaths, asthma attacks, strokes, heart attacks, and other illnesses associated with harmful greenhouse gasses.
Pros of Renewable Energy
Renewable energy is much safer and more energy-efficient. It can help homeowners and industries reduce their dependence on fossil fuel sources. By definition, renewable sources are endless, meaning they don’t run out. Take geothermal energy as an example. This renewable energy source comes from Earth’s natural heat.
Since our planet retained substantial heat during its formation, companies can pump naturally heated water through turbines to generate electricity. Renewable sources from wind turbines and solar panels with fewer moving parts require less maintenance than fossil fuels.
Finally, renewables are helping us power our way toward a climate-friendly future. Nowadays, more citizens care about ongoing environmental changes, prompting a demand for action from governments worldwide.
In response, several countries are setting ambitious carbon-reduction targets designed to mitigate the effects of climate change. Renewable energy is rapidly reshaping our environmental health.
Cons of Clean Energy
Not all clean energy sources are infinite—we can deplete the supply. Nuclear energy is the most prominent example because it relies on uranium, a finite material mined from the earth. Nuclear power can also produce unintended consequences that are hazardous for humans. The most apparent hazard is radioactive waste with materials like fuel assemblies.
Cons of Renewable Energy
Unfortunately, the efficiencies of some sources depend primarily on the weather. What does this mean? It means that solutions like wind power are only effective when winds are strong enough to turn the blades.
Solar is another energy-efficient solution that only functions under specific weather-related conditions. Solar panels need sunlight to generate electricity. No sunlight means homeowners don’t have a reliable source of electricity at night or during gloomy days, making it challenging for them to meet energy demands.
Finally, renewables still produce carbon emissions indirectly via transportation, manufacturing, and installation. Recycling used solar panel material and wind turbine blades also presents a challenge.
Renewable vs. Clean Energy Costs
Compared to fossil fuel-based energy, renewables saved $55 billion in global energy generation costs in 2022. In 2021, it cost $29.13 per megawatt-hour to generate electricity through nuclear power. If you’re wondering about renewable, non-clean sources, the cost for installing biomass electric plants in the U.S. averages between $3,000 and $4,000 per kilowatt.
How Can You Utilize Clean and Renewable Energy?
Despite their drawbacks, clean and renewable energy remain necessary for achieving climate-based objectives and helping preserve the environment. Besides these energy-saving solutions, you can use clean and renewable energy in other ways. Consider the following tips to get started:
- Use in-home water filtration to avoid the unnecessary plastic waste of bottled water.
- If solar electrical generation isn’t for you, consider using solar water heaters. These require less space and minimal maintenance.
- If you own a large property, you could install wind turbines if it’s permitted.
- Use a geothermal heat pump as they use up to 25 to 50% less electricity than standard heating systems.
- Use smart technology to automate daily household tasks and decrease energy consumption patterns.
- Invest in organizations dedicated to developing environmentally-friendly solutions.
Become Energy-Efficient with Spring Power & Gas
The similarities and differences between clean energy vs. renewable energy are apparent. The future of renewable and clean energy will reshape global conservation efforts and help create a sustainable planet.
Do you want to do your part in energy conservation? Spring Power & Gas can get you started. Enroll in one of our energy-saving plans and see how we match your electricity demands with renewable sources. Check out our environmental fund rewards program to learn more about our ongoing efforts in supporting organizations that advance environmental justice.
Get in touch with us to get started.