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What Is Clean Energy?

Clean energy technologies are constantly expanding, creating new resources and solutions all the time.

Clean energy technologies are constantly expanding, creating new resources and solutions all the time.

Thanks to communities getting together to spread awareness and desire for cleaner energy programs, more and more companies are putting investments towards projects, applications, and opportunities, and transitioning from fossil fuel to cleaner energy resources. 

It’s not perfect, and the deployment and performance of these various project and program investment details need work.

However, if done right, the energy transition from harmful and non-renewable materials to low carbon and renewable resources, or clean energy, will allow us to reduce our carbon footprint and have multiple sectors of electricity, including hydro, wind, and solar, for distributed generation across the world and various countries. 

Eventually, with enough care, we can have fully green transportation with electric vehicles and even green buildings. Every microgrid may become a renewable and smart grid in time. 

But what exactly is clean energy, and how does it work? For that, you will have to keep reading.

What Does Clean Energy Mean?

Clan energy is defined as energy that comes from sources that are both renewable and have zero emissions. It is usually discussed when talking about ways to help the environment and deal with issues we have today with non-renewable fuels. 

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There are quite a few countries currently dedicating themselves to finding safer and cleaner energy to use, and many have set a specific deadline. For example, the United Nations wants to at least double the global amount of clean energy usage by 2030.

Currently, China and the United States are the largest producers of clean energy. 

How Does It Work?

The goal of clean energy is to produce power without any harmful impacts on the environment. Currently, a lot of the energy we use releases greenhouse gases into the environment, with carbon dioxide being the highest. 

While clean energy isn’t necessarily renewable energy, it is overlap. For example, certain water-powered energy sources, wind power, and solar power are all considered clean and renewable energy. 

Sun and wind are currently the most focused as they are energy sources that never run out. Water is another one. However, since we have water problems such as running out of fresh water, this resource isn’t always the first consideration.

Why Is It Important?

There are many reasons why clean energy is important. The biggest one is that it allows for a decrease in air pollution. 

If you live in or near a large city, you may have noticed that air quality alerts have been happening more and more often in recent years. This is due to the type of energy sources we use and the fact that they are releasing harmful pollutants into the air like carbon dioxide. 

Types Of Clean Energy

There are eight main types of clean energy that countries around the world are focusing on today. Some are easier to get energy from than others, though scientists are constantly working to produce new and more efficient ways to produce energy.

1. Solar Power

Solar power is energy from the sun, as the name suggests. Using solar panels and battery banks, big businesses, cities, countries, and even individuals can use the sun to their advantage.

Solar power is an easy form of energy that anyone can use. Whether you travel in an RV, live in your home, or attempt to go off-grid, solar panels can be a great way to not only benefit the environment but lower your monthly bills. 

There are constant improvements and advancements to solar panels and solar systems, including battery storage, the efficiency of the panels, and more.

There are some drawbacks as solar can be initially costly. A simple set-up that only covers a portion of your daily energy can easily cost several thousand dollars.

2. Wind Power

Wind power usually comes in the form of giant windmills. They are often placed in windy areas like flat land, near oceans, mountain areas, and farms.

Unfortunately, they aren’t perfect, as the machinery can be defective and cause problems like leaking fluids or even fires. There are also some areas where turbines tend to cause injury to birds and bats. 

As with solar, a lot of attention has been given to these turbines to try and make sure all parts can be recycled, reduce impacts on birds and bats, and make them cheaper to produce.

3. Geothermal Energy

While it isn’t super practical at the moment, geothermal energy has a ton of benefits and advantages. It is an energy that is present in most areas. 

The way geothermal energy works is that the steam and heat from underground can cause a turbine under the earth to rotate and produce energy similar to wind energy. However, heat can also be directly vented into homes as a source of heat.

One of the ways this could be used is in heating homes. By having underground heating pumps and systems, a lot of energy during winter and early spring could be mitigated and not need a lot of space. 

A good example of the future is Iceland. While they also use clean water, most of it comes from geothermal. 

One big issue with geothermal energy, though, is that it does still have the potential to release carbon emissions, though not nearly as much as fossil fuels. Whether this will be a stepping stone to clean energy or a final option is still unclear.

4. Hydroelectricity

Currently, hydroelectric energy is considered one of the most used renewable energy sources in the world. However, it isn’t perfect. 

While it does provide benefits like creating reservoirs, providing renewable electricity that can be adjusted to meet needs, and it is emission-free, there are just as many negatives. 

For example, many dams still have serious negatives on fish and their migration cycle. There have been some methods such as tubes to allow fish to travel through, but it still takes away habitats and reduces migration. 

Additionally, dams have to be set up where water is. Due to the locations and high elevation, they are easily susceptible to drought or flooding.

5. Nuclear Power

Nuclear energy is a source of renewable energy that has been pushed and fought over for decades now. This is because nuclear power doesn’t only get used to power, but to war as well, and it can be frightening if a country focuses too much on nuclear power. 

Despite that fear, about 20 percent of all power in the United States is nuclear and it is used all around the world. France is using nuclear power for over 70 percent of its energy.

6. Biomass

Biomass is the burning of animal and plant waste. Pretty much every major industry, from agriculture to hotels, produces waste that can be burned to produce electricity. 

This makes it a practical and renewable resource, as we are constantly producing trash, waste, and wood. Unfortunately, this one isn’t entirely clear as the burning of these products can release methane gasses and other pollutants that go into the air.

There is also a risk of deforestation if we run out of things to burn in the future.

7. Tidal Power

Tidal power is fairly new, and therefore hasn’t been fully studied yet. It is hard to fully determine how this form of renewable energy will impact the environment until a lot of time passes. It is also very expensive, which doesn’t make it super practical. 

However, it is very compact, providing similar energy to wind turbines without nearly as much space. It is also easy to add them to already-built seawalls to protect against flooding.

8. Solar Thermal

Solar thermal energy, like solar panels, relies on the sun. However, instead of using the light of the sun, you use the heat from it. It will heat up water and produce steam. While this is great and a way to create pretty clean energy, it has some downfalls. 

The first is that it is inconsistent. Since it relies on the sun, you will have far lower yields in seasons with less sun and on cloudy or stormy days. Additionally, it is expensive and hard to store. 

Benefits

Clean and renewable energy has quite a few benefits. It helps to make the air cleaner, especially in large cities and towns where air pollution goes downhill. 

That isn’t the only benefit. Finding and creating clean energy increases economic development, and reduces our dependence on non-renewable fuels as well as fuels from other countries.

How Clean Energy Is Used

Clean energy can be used for almost anything regular electricity can. This includes heating water, cooling, and powering homes and buildings.

It allows countries to become less dependent on each other for future fuel and energy needs. While clean energy is still slow in the vehicle sector, there is progress being made to make more practical and renewable cars.

The Future Of Clean Energy

A lot of countries around the world have set a goal to severely change their energy needs and go more towards clean and renewable energy by 2030. 

However, we doubt the future of clean energy will stop there. The demand for clean energy is constantly growing, and it is expected that new designs, methods, and cheaper options. 

Additionally, our capacity to store said power is constantly increasing, making using the power even more viable. 

How Clean Energy Reduces Climate Change

Our fossil fuels (coal, oil, and gas) are said to be the largest contributor to global climate change and account for 75 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions. 

By reducing these emissions, we reduce how fast our world changes. While clean energy can’t reverse climate change alone, it slows down our air pollution so that the planet can have a chance to reverse the effects itself. 

It also provides us with a clear goal for the future and a way to give ourselves enough time to create new ways to help the planet. 

FAQ

Can clean energy replace fossil fuels?

While we haven’t quite yet made it where renewable and clean energy can entirely replace fossil fuels, it does have the potential to. Fossil fuels are pretty energy-dense, so things like oil and gas can’t just be swapped out. 

Instead, we have to swap how our systems run, such as cars, semis, and heavy machinery. While we are making progress, it isn’t perfect yet.

Does clean energy help our economy?

Clean energy can greatly help our economy. Not only do we have to test products to see how they work and create new ideas, but there are more ways to generate energy. 

Instead of solely using oil and gas, we have eight different ways to get power. That means there are eight sectors full of jobs, as well as storage systems, communication, and research.

Is electricity clean energy?

While electricity itself is considered clean, the way we generate energy isn’t necessarily. One of the ways we generate electricity is by burning coal. This is not a clean method. 

However, we are working on finding cleaner and more reliable ways to generate enough energy to support cities and countries now.

What is the difference between clean energy and renewable energy?

Renewable energy is a part of clean energy, but it is not the exact same. Renewable energy is determined by the way you get energy. 
If it is a naturally replenishing energy source that can easily replace what we use, it is renewable.

Wind, sun, and geothermal heating are all renewable sources of energy. Clean energy, on the other hand, means producing electricity and energy without carbon emissions or greenhouse gases, or at least very minimal amounts. 

Some renewable sources can be clean, but they don’t have to be. One big example is burning wood. Wood is considered renewable, but the burning process does release carbon dioxide into the air.

What’s the cleanest energy source?

Technically, solar and wind are the cleanest energies. However, the problem is finding clean ways to harvest these energy sources.