How Clean is the Electricity that YOU Use?

Ever wonder where the electricity you use comes from, and how it is produced?  Check out the EPA’s Power Profiler!  This nifty tool allows you to look up any location (in the US, sorry international readers!) in order to:

  • Determine your power grid region based on your ZIP code and electric utility
  • Compare the fuel mix and air emissions rates of the electricity in your region to the national average
  • Determine the air emissions impacts of electricity use in your home or business

After shocking you with the reality of your impact from electricity use, it shows you some energy efficiency tips.  Most importantly, it shows you how you can buy green power in your area through regional Renewable Energy Credit/Certificate programs!

Here’s a summary from my location:  Very high coal use, higher than average carbon emission.  We are trying to change that!

Check out the Power Profiler tool and let us know what you find out!  What did you find most shocking or interesting?


Which Countries Use the Most Renewable Energy?

As we head into this Memorial Day weekend, I wanted to write a quick post listing the countries that use the most renewable energy.

That question is proving to be a little trickier than I thought.  First of all, what is renewable, what is not?  Some statistics include hydroelectric and biomass, others do not.  Some indexes forget to include geothermal.  In addition, is it better to look at total energy production from renewable sources, percentage of overall production, or actual consumption of renewable electricity?

For this post, let’s look at TOTAL energy production from renewable sources including Wind, Solar, Geothermal, and Biomass.  (Why did I leave out Hydroelectricity? Based on overall environmental impact.  More on that later.)

Given these parameters, lets look at the Top 5 Renewable Energy Producers by country:

1. The U.S.A.



That’s right, according to the Christian Science Monitor, as of 2011, the US produced more renewable energy than other nation, responsible for 24.7% of renewable energy production.







2. Germany


Germany has made a huge commitment towards renewable energy, vowing to eliminate all nuclear by 2022.  In 2011, Germany accounted for 11.7% of global renewable energy.





3. Spain


Though it is a net importer of energy, Spain is known for its wind energy production, and the nation accounts for 7.8% of the world’s RE.






4. China


China has recently become the world’s largest energy consumer.  Although they are not known for clean energy policy, the are now leading the world in investment in renewable energy as well.       In 2011, they accounted for 7.6% of RE production.






5. Brazil


Another burgeoning country, Brazil is building a lot of renewable energy to keep up with growing demand.  Accounting for 5% of global RE production in 2011, the country has promised to power the 2014 World Cup with solar power.





Now wait a second, does this list look funny to anyone else?  The US? Brazil?  CHINA?  When I think about clean energy, these are NOT the names that generally occur to me.  While it is worth noting that these countries produce the highest amount of renewable energy, it is important to note that they are also some of the biggest CONSUMERS of energy overall.  Three of the countries from this list are also in the top 5 Coal consumers:  China (#1), The US (#2), and Germany (#5).

Next week we will look at which countries produce the highest percentage of their electricity from renewables.

Renewable Energy? Why Not! pt 4

4. Takes jobs away from coal/oil/gas etc.

Proponents of renewable energy like myself will often point out that the growing industry is adding thousands and thousands of new jobs.  But others are quick to counter that these jobs come at the cost of existing jobs in the fossil fuel industry.  This may be true, probably is, but there is some overlap.  When someone gets hired to engineer a new solar/wind project, it doesn’t mean that a coal miner or plant technician is fired.  Of course, the goal of many proponents is to eliminate fossil fuel usage, which would take the jobs with it.

But which would you prefer: working outside, in the fresh air on a wind turbine, or underground in dark coal mine, thousands of feet underground, breathing in coal dust?  I don’t want to offend anyone who has worked for a coal company, but some jobs are better than others. Remember the Upper Big Branch Mine disaster in 2010? 38 dead.  Or the Sago Mine disaster in 2006 with 12 dead?  I certainly wouldn’t want to work in a coal mine.  They are dangerous and hazardous to your health, and negligent companies managing them aren’t making anything better.  So maybe we can replace them with better jobs.  Now, I don’t want to tell anyone that they have to retrain for a new job, but as the workforce ages and retires, maybe instead of hiring new people to replace them, we replace them with cleaner, healthier, safer jobs.  Just a thought.