Is a green energy credit the same thing as a carbon credit?

Question by riotsoup: Is a green energy credit the same thing as a carbon credit?
I know how carbon credits are used but I noticed that some companies claim that they “buy green energy credits” as though it’s a positive thing. Don’t companies want to advertise that they sell credits because they don’t use all theirs up?

Best answer:

Answer by Peter Reefman
No they’re different things. Related in that they’re both ways to reduce CO2, and both are important. But there are some big distinctions.

Okay you know how carbon credits work at offsetting your emissions so I won’t spend any time explaining those, other than they’re good but should ONLY be used as a last case resort (reduce your emissions first!).

Where green energy comes into play is that it’s produced by renewable sources, such as wind, solar, hydro, etc. Simple as that.

So if you generate 4 tonnes on CO2 for burning the fuel in your car for a year, and another 4 tonnes from the coal burned to produce electricity to power your house for a year, you can use both Carbon and Green Energy credits to zero your emissions from both.

You can’t buy green energy for your car (unless you have an electric vehicle…), so Carbon offsets are the ONLY way to do that. But you CAN buy your electricity from renewable sources, and by doing so your house power consumption hasn’t contributed produced any CO2 at all. You can also use Carbon Credits to offset the house instead, but Green Energy is better if you can.

People get confused and think that there needs to be a separate ‘Green’ power cord to plug your house into. This isn’t the case. What happens is that ALL electricity goes into the same grid and gets used at it’s nearest point. The power itself doesn’t know or care where it’s being used. So the actual physical electricity produced by renewable power might be used by someone NOT paying for green energy, and if you’re nearer to a coal power station, you’ll be using power from there regardless.

But this is the important part. It doesn’t matter where it comes from or goes. What matters is that there’s a DEMAND for it in the first place. For example, if there’s 100GW of power coming from coal, and 1GW coming from Renewables, and no one bothers buying green energy, there’s no reason to make more Renewables. But if MOST people (like, 70GW’s worth) said they want to buy green power instead of coal power, then a HUGE amount of renewable power stations would need to be built, and the coal stations could eventually be turned off. So it’s EXTREMELY important and perhaps the best thing (and easiest) all of us can do. Right now.

But right now there’s still only a tiny fraction of people buying green energy because they’re either not aware of it, or they don’t want to pay the 5c or so more per KW, or they don’t think the world even needs clean renewable energy…

I’m aware of it, I don’t mind the extra money, and I think it’s essential that we switch to clean energy. So I’m one of those that buy Green Energy (as well as offsetting the other stuff).

Hope that helps.

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