What is “Clean Energy” and How is it Different From “Renewable Energy”

what is clean energy


Many people have formed the habit of interchanging clean energy and renewable energy when speaking about alternative sources of power. This can be acceptable in some cases as there may be an overlap, but these two sources of energy are not completely the same and there are some exceptions that you must know about before speaking about them.


Renewable Energy

Most people are more familiar with renewable energy, as it has seen a huge bump in popularity in a short space of time. Unlike the other sources of power that we have become more used to over the years such as oil and coal, renewable energy sources can naturally replenish themselves. The best part is that our world is filled with many potential renewable sources, such as solar energy and wind, and if we can use them properly and make them more efficient, then we should never run out of power. Other sources of renewable energy include geothermal, hydro, and tidal energy.


Clean Energy

To know all about clean energy, you must first understand its opposite, dirty energy. This kind of power, which you may be more used to in your everyday life, is created from burning fossil fuels such as coal. This process releases a wave of carbon pollution into the air which warms the atmosphere and results in climate change. Clean energy sources tend to do the opposite by not releasing any carbon waste into the air at all. This means that the climate is not harmed as a result of producing energy.


So, what is the Difference Between Clean Energy and Renewable Energy?

By now, you may have noticed that some renewable energy sources such as solar and wind also do not release any carbon into the atmosphere, so does this mean that they are clean energy sources too? The simple answer is yes. You must see clean energy as a wide umbrella that covers all renewable energy sources but also leaves room for more. The most common example of a clean energy source is nuclear energy. The power plants that help produce nuclear power do not release any carbon emissions so provided the plant is being run safely, no damage will be done to our environment. Another source of clean energy that has been growing in popularity is the carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) method, which involves the storing of carbon dioxide.


Apart from these exemptions, you should see that for the most part, renewable energy sources and clean energy sources fall under the same category. As a rule of thumb, you should remember that all renewable energy sources are clean but not all clean energy sources are renewable.


Are There any Issues with Clean Energy Sources?

For the most part, clean energy sources are safer than the other traditional methods that we have used to create power, but non-renewable sources of energy still have certain issues, even if they do not release any carbon into the atmosphere. By producing nuclear energy, we create a high amount of radioactive waste, which is harmful to us. This waste must be cooled and stored safely to prevent any radiation from leaking. You may have also seen this issue being echoed in carbon capture sequestration discussions, because if the carbon dioxide is not stored properly, then there is a high chance of either steady or catastrophic leakage. This would reverse all the environmental benefits, while also causing severe damage to human health.


Works Cited

Beck, L., & Gordon, J. T. (2019, March 4). The devil’s in the details: Policy implications of ‘clean’ vs. ‘renewable’ energy | Utility Dive. Retrieved from Utility Dive: https://www.utilitydive.com/news/the-devils-in-the-details-policy-implications-of-clean-vs-renewable/550441/#:~:text=Renewable%20energy%20is%20derived%20from,all%20zero%2Dcarbon%20energy%20sources.&text=This%2C%20in%20turn%2C%20can%20lower,of%20solar%20an

High Country Conservation Center. (2018, July 23). Ask Eartha: What’s the Difference Between Clean & Renewable Energy – High Country Conservation Center. Retrieved April 16, 2021, from High Country Conservation Center: https://highcountryconservation.org/2018/07/23/ask-eartha-clean-vs-renewable-energy/




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