what is green energy anywayWhat is Green Energy Anyway? Well the answer is that it really depends on who you talk to and what you read. Fortunately many companies have realized that it is important to be seen to be on the Green bandwagon. Unfortunately many are using this new phenomenon to further market their existing products. They may or may not use green sources of energy. We decided to write this post, because as we are doing some of the research for our posts we started to realize that all energy generation causes pollution of some kind – Air, visual, habitat and manufacturing processes.

Local Power Supply

Take your local electrical supply company. If you read some of the brochures in your monthly bill, or read their annual reports, they will likely talk about how they are gradually going green and buying power from green electrical generation companies. But what is really green and were does the power come from, given that our power system across North America is totally connected and integrated?

Power comes from coal and oil fired plants, it comes from nuclear generating plants and power also comes from hydro electric generation plants which are dams that use flowing water to turn turbines to generate electrical power. Added to the mix is power from solar panels and wind farms that are increasingly being set up!

In my opinion, all power generation has an impact on the environment depending on how the equipment is manufactured, depending on the footprint of the facility that generates power and of course the fuel or energy source that is used.  Wind farms and solar power generation are broadly accepted as green technology because they do not pollute the air, however they do pollute our space and they take up a lot of land. Hydro generation causes thousands of acres of land and wildlife habitat to be flooded. So are they really green?

What is Green Energy Anyway

The broad categories include:

  • Manufacture of equipment
  • Land use for the power generation facility
  • Fuel used to generate the electricity
  • Connecting the plant to the distribution systems

These are very difficult to measure so that you have absolute comparisons. We have yet to come across any real comparisons using mathematical or financial measures. What we have read so far are really opinions based on perceived common sense which can be suspect some times.

Land use for the power generation facility

It appears that hydro generation from dams and rivers would have the largest impact since thousands of square miles can be flooded. However I have not seen comparisons of how much land would be covered if you generated the same amount of power from solar panels for example. It could be calculated and some would say that if you confined the solar panels to roof tops and desert areas, what is the harm. We have not found anyone looking at this yet, although the information may be there.

Fuel used to generate the electricity

Oil, coal and uranium to power nuclear sites are clearly the most polluting in terms of the air and radiation. But do not forget the mines that these fuels come from in the case of coal and the impact on our economy for the oil we pay to other countries. And nuclear power really has a bad name these days due to the catastrophe in Japan.

Connecting the plant to the distribution systems

All of these plants must be connected to the grid. Power lines must connect to dams and solar power as well as wind farms, while new oil and coal plants can be built closer to were the power will be consumed. If you do not like long miles of power lines, then dams will not be your favorite source of power. Nor will wind farms or solar power since they must be located were they can maximize the efficiency of power generation.

Manufacture of equipment

This one is incredibly complex. All of the systems that generate power have a manufacturing process, some which have less impact on the environment than others. Right now it looks like that solar panels might be the worst based on a kilowatt of power generated, but that is just opinion at this point.

We would like to get your comments on this subject and any sites that can provide more information.