You Don’t Need Solar Panels to Support Renewable Energy in Your Home

Renewable energy is all the rage — and for good reason. For starters, a lot of our carbon emissions come from the electricity sector, so switching to renewable resources like wind and solar would decrease the amount of carbon dioxide we’re releasing into the atmosphere, which warms the planet. Burning fossil fuels also contributes to public health issues, where renewables can help tip the scales. And renewable energy is, well, renewable!

But not everyone can get solar panels on their house (hey, renters). And there’s a solution! In comes Clearly EnergyJust put in your address and see what renewable power options are available for your home — from switching energy suppliers to shopping for efficient products.

If your zip code is available for the renewable upgrade, Clearly Energy will give you a matrix of options, showing your current utility rate, utility rate under renewable power, and a plethora of provider options to choose from, depending what matters to you — from wind, to solar, to carbon equivalent numbers.

Here’s how it works. If your power company participates in the program, you’ll switch your provider to the new, renewable one. You’ll still pay your bills through the energy company, and they’ll still fix your wires if anything goes wrong or your power goes out. But you’ll be supporting that fresh, clean, wind or solar after you sign up.

Here in my house in New Jersey, it works like this: my power company, Jersey Central Power and Light, works with Arcadia Power to purchase renewable credits every month to SUPPORT wind projects and power in the form of renewable energy certificates.

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In some cases, in order to truly support clean energy, you’ll need to install solar panels on your roof (or install a wind turbine, which is a little more costly and difficult). Clearly Energy can help with, too, through Energy Sage.

If there are no options for you in the clean energy realm with your home, Clearly Energy will give you options, tailored to your home, to help you go green and save on your energy bills — who doesn’t like to save money?

And if you can’t do any of these things for any reason, there are still ways you can go green and save electricity, which include switching to LED light bulbs, using “advanced” power strips, and just reducing your energy use overall (like turning the lights off when you leave a room).

No matter why you do it, whether it’s to power your electric car with green energy, or to save a little money on your electric bill, it’s all worth it to fight the good fight against climate change. May your days be sunny (or windy, whichever way your energy likes it!).

Resources to check out renewables where you live:

Earth Week 2015: the rise of renewables

Welcome to my annual Earth Week series! I believe that protecting the Earth deserves more than one day, so I’ve given it a week. Check back every day from April 20-24 to learn about a new environmental issue (or solution!) each day.

So its not all bad news this Earth Week – renewable energy is on the rise. Renewable energy, once widely called alternative energy, is changing, considering it’s not so alternative anymore – it’s finally hitting the mainstream.

solar panels

According to Climate Central, renewable energy is in a “global renaissance”:

Renewables, mainly including hydropower, solar and wind, reached 28 percent of the total electric power supply in Germany in 2014, 19 percent in the United Kingdom, 22 percent in China, 76 percent in Brazil and 13 percent in the U.S., as investments in renewables increased more than 15 percent globally last year, BNEF Chairman Michael Liebreich said Tuesday.

“I haven’t heard the word ‘alternative energy’ in the last few years,” he said. “This is not alternative when the world average (for renewables) is getting to 11 to 13 percent. This is not alternative anymore. And, it’s cheap.”

For the United States, solar energy and nuclear energy are on the rise. Solar is cheaper and more efficient than ever, and more and more areas around the country are adopting it as their method of energy. By 2020, the World Nuclear Association expects America to be home to six new nuclear reactors for clean power generation, despite the stigma nuclear power has had in the past.

There are some cool energy projects starting up around the country and the world.

A vineyard in the Napa Valley outside of San Francisco has put 1,000 floating solar panels on an irrigation pond on the property, reports CBS News. Far Niente Vineyard is a certified national landmark, so the only place open for solar is the ponds, considering all other structures are out of bounds for solar development. The output of the panels daily is four times what the winery uses – they still get a power bill, but the balance has been zero for quite some time. The system also helps the drought “by reducing evaporation from the pond by providing shade. The proximity to the water also keeps the panels cooler and more efficient than they would otherwise be.”

In my opinion, that’s not a bad idea! Nothing much else is going on in those irrigation ponds, and there are farms throughout the entire state of California that could adopt this method.

Australia is also installing it’s first floating solar farm, which will be assembled on top of a wastewater pond.

vancouver

In a move to become more sustainable, Vancouver, British Columbia has committed to run on 100% renewable energy by 2030-2035, reports the Guardian. The Canadian city, population 600,000 will achieve these goals through the greening of their transportation, electricity, and heating and cooling sectors. Since cities make up 70-75% of global CO2 emissions, Andrea Reimer, Vancouver’s deputy mayor, feels it’s important to make this change and alter the global conversation about carbon emissions and how they affect our planet.

Although Vancouver isn’t as populous as major cities in the United States, this model shows that perhaps we can start to make city-wide changes, starting with San Francisco and San Diego, both of which have expressed interest and made progress on becoming green. Other cities around the world are in different stages of the process too, including Sydney, Copenhagen, Reykjavik, and the entire country of Costa Rica.

There are small projects going on throughout the country. Check into your town, city, or state and see how they’re making it sustainable. You may be surprised!

Check back Friday 4/24 for Earth Week 5: the state of our oceans.

 

Renewable Energy Update: July 2014

A lot has been happening in the renewable energy realm this summer, especially when it comes to green technology. So far this year, renewables have accounted for half of the US’s energy capacity! And solar power is becoming a LOT cheaper. Check out these three recent clean energy projects from around the globe:

One of Apple’s solar farms

1. Apple is building another solar farm in order to keep to their promise that iCloud would be run with 100% renewable energy. The California-based company opened this farm in North Carolina where the sun seems to be always shining! According to Greenpeace, this is also helping NC get away from catering to Duke Energy, an oil company that has a large hold on the state.

Wind farm

2. Microsoft is also hopping on the renewable energy bandwagon: it purchased a wind farm in Illinois last week. Greenpeace reports that the wind will power Microsoft’s data centers in Chicago. There is already a wind farm in Texas to power Microsoft’s data centers there, but the company has not committed to a 100% renewable energy promise just yet. Still, this is a big leap forward for the tech giant!

Both of these articles are part of Greenpeace’s #ClickClean campaign, which pushes for a clean internet. The clean leaders are Google, Facebook and Apple. The dirty ones? Pinterest, Twitter and Tumblr. If you are so inclined, you can go to their website to take action and ask these “dirty sites” to use renewables for energy!

3. India’s Renewable Energy College has drawn up the plans for the world’s largest floating solar farm, reports the Economic Times.

“The technology is fairly simple. Solar panels will be set up on floating platforms which will be anchored firmly so that it does not sway. Scientists in charge of the projects are still working on the ways of securing the platform in case there are strong winds.”

Scientists will be basing their designs on a small pilot study and Japan’s floating solar farm, which opened last November.