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Renewable Energy 101
April 12, 2019
You’ve probably heard a lot about “going green” and you’ve probably wondered exactly what renewable energy is, how it works, and if it really benefits you or the environment. The first blog in our renewable energy series breaks down these topics, and more, to help you better understand major factors of green energy.
Renewable energy, or “green” energy, comes from natural sources that are infinite and constantly replenished, like sunlight and wind. These types of energy are considered renewable because their source is basically an endless supply, though it may be contingent upon factors like weather or time of day.
There are many types of renewable energy, some more suitable for residential use and others that are more appropriate for commercial and industrial requirements.
- Solar Energy – Solar cells capture the sun’s rays and transform sunlight directly into electricity. Solar energy can generate electricity locally for homes and businesses, through rooftop panels or community projects, such as solar farms.
- Wind Energy – Turbines harness the wind, which turns the blades, creating energy. Though it only accounts for about 6 percent of U.S. generation, wind energy has become one of the cheapest energy sources in the country.
- Water/Hydroelectric Power – Currently the largest renewable energy source for electricity in the U.S., hydropower uses fast moving water to flow through the turbines of a generator, converting the force of water into electricity.
- Biomass Energy – Biomass energy is generated from an organic renewable energy source with materials, such as agriculture and forest residues, crops and algae. Although there are some forms of biomass energy that produce carbon emissions, there are others that serve as a low-carbon option.
- Geothermal Energy – Wells drilled deep into the earth bring steam and hot water to the surface, which is then pumped through a turbine to generate electricity. Geothermal technology can be used to keep homes cool in the summer and warm in the winter by using the constant temperature of the Earth just below the surface.
Does Using Renewable Energy Really Make a Difference?
It sure does, and there is a simple way for you to see how “going green” impacts your carbon footprint! The Environmental Protection Agency has developed a Greenhouse Gases Equivalencies Calculator that shows what electricity-related emissions could be reduced from practicing energy efficiency or using renewable programs.1
It’s easy to use, and only requires the number of annual kilowatt-hours of electricity used to be put into the box before clicking the “calculate” button. You can also see emission calculations for gasoline, natural gas and more. The Greenhouse Gases Equivalencies Calculator shows the avoided CO2 emissions in several forms, so users can see their impact in a way that’s relatable to their lifestyle, home or business.
How Can I “Go Green”?
“Going green” is easier now than ever. If you live in a deregulated state, Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) make it possible for you to choose to enroll in a renewable energy supply plan. AEP Energy is proud to offer customers the opportunity to choose renewable energy plans for your home or business that match your electricity usage with national Green-e® certified wind RECs, and meet the highest environmental and customer protection standards.2
Renewable energy – it’s affordable, it’s good for the
environment and it’s your choice!
For more information on renewable energy, click here!
1This calculator uses AVERT, the AVoided Emissions and geneRation Tool U.S. national weighted average CO2 marginal emission rate to convert reductions of kilowatt-hours into avoided units of carbon dioxide emissions.
2For information on Green-e Energy, write to Green-e Energy, 1012 Torney Ave., 2nd Floor, San Francisco, CA 94129, or visit www.green-e.org.
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