If you live in the USA, Canada, UK or Australia you can help the transition from fossil fuel electricity to green electricity by buying... renewable electricity.
Many governments have launched programs aimed to increase the share of renewables in power generation: the Germans aim a share of at least 35-40% in 2020 and 80% or more in 2050, the Danes 100% in 2050, the English and the Australians 25% in 2020, and so on.
Germans, Danes and other European consumers are paying part of this transition in their utility bills. But the approach is different in many other countries.
In countries like the US, Canada, UK, Australia… you can buy renewable energy from utilities, or help the green producers by buying "certificates".
When buying green electricity to utilities, a small premium will be added to your electricity bills - a premium that varies with the program and the specifics of what you are buying, and of course with your electricity consumption. It can be as little as $2-$4 per month or, say, ten times more.
It’s common to hear people express doubts about green power programs. Electricity companies may be selling the results of past investments, or selling what the law already requires them to produce, and so on.
To help minimize these risks you should buy certified green power products.
The American program consists of three subprograms: 1) “Green power pricing”; 2) Green Power Certificates and 3) Greenhouse Gas Offsets.
See, for details: Buying Renewable Power in North America
Note: in the USA, to find out how clean is the energy you use, and the share of coal, nuclear, solar, wind, etc., see EPA Power Profiler. You just have to enter your ZIP code and the name of your utility company.
The Australian GreenPower program is very simple. Each company's "product" is rated by an Australian government and assigned with a logo indicating the percentage of renewable energy within the product.
You just have to choose between the different companies and their products and premiums, taking into account their logo.
See, for details: Buying Renewable Electricity in Australia (GreenPower)
UK Green Tariff Program is not very different from the Australian GreenPower program, or the American Green Power Pricing program…
See, for details: Buying Renewable Power with the UK Green Tariffs.
There are about 600 coal power plants only in the United States; they produce more than 40% of the American electricity, and each of them, on average, generates 3.5 million tons of CO2 per year, besides other toxic gases. Green Power programs intend to help replace these coal plants with renewable energy, and help the environment.In the US or in the UK, there are Emission Offsets, Green Certificates and other products issued by companies committed to green projects that people can buy to help support them. The projects may involve energy improvements, methane capture in landfill sites, carbon capture and storage, reforestation, etc. and are as worthwhile and beneficial as buying green electricity.
But in some sense you can carry out yourself the same goals, in your own home, through energy efficiency improvements. They are equally beneficial for the environment.
High tech projects are not necessarily more useful – from an environmental standpoint – than air sealing or insulation projects in our homes, or the replacing of inefficient windows. After all, it’s usually easier and a less costly to save energy than to produce it.
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