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Green Power Partnership

Green Power Market

Green Power Defined

Renewable energy and green power — what's the difference?

In short, not all sources of power generation have the same environmental benefits and costs.

Green power is a subset of renewable energy (Graph 1) and represents those renewable energy resources and technologies that provide the highest environmental benefit. EPA defines green power as electricity produced from solar, wind, geothermal, biogas, eligible biomass, and low-impact small hydroelectric sources. Customers often buy green power for avoided environmental impacts and its greenhouse gas reduction benefits.

Chart showing that green power is subset of renewable energy and that green power represents those renewable resources that provide the highest environmental benefit. Green power includes solar, wind, biomass, biogas, low-impact hydro, and geothermal.Green power sources produce electricity with an environmental profile superior to conventional power technologies and produce no fossil-fuel based greenhouse gas emissions. EPA requires that green power sources must also have been built within the last 15 years in order to support "new" renewable energy development.

Renewable energy includes resources that rely on fuel sources that restore themselves over short periods of time and do not diminish. Such fuel sources include the sun, wind, moving water, organic plant and waste material (eligible biomass), and the earth's heat (geothermal). Although the impacts are small, some renewable energy technologies have an impact on the environment. For example, large hydroelectric resources can have environmental trade-offs associated with issues such as fisheries and land use.

Conventional power includes the combustion of fossil fuels (coal, natural gas, and oil) and the nuclear fission of uranium. Fossil fuels have environmental costs from mining, drilling, or extraction, and emit greenhouse gases and air pollution during combustion. Although nuclear power generation emits no greenhouse gases during power generation, it does require mining, extraction, and long-term radioactive waste storage.

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