Electricity may be an essential part of modern life, but there's no reason that we have to keep destroying Planet Earth to use it.
Here, we explain how switching to a green energy provider can help you play your part in looking after the planet while also getting a cost-effective deal on your energy bills.
Green energy harnesses power from natural, renewable sources rather than fossil fuels which are harmful to the environment.
The Australian government's GreenPower program helps Australians to invest in the ongoing move toward greener energy.
Most energy retailers offer green energy plans, but tend to charge extra for this if you’re an existing customer.
Switching energy providers can help you offset your carbon emissions without paying out extra on your power bill.
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What is green energy?
In the most basic sense, green energy refers to the use of renewable energy sources.
Green energy sources don’t need to be burned, which is a big win for the environment. Recent years have seen increased investment in efficient, renewable energy generation (e.g. wind and solar power).
These energy sources are produced consistently and naturally by planet earth, which means they won't eventually run out like limited fossil fuels (e.g. coal and gas).
In order to produce energy from fossil fuels, they must be burned. It’s well known that burning fossil fuels releases carbon emissions, causing significant environmental harm.
One of the worst impacts of fossil fuel emissions is that they compound the devastating impact of climate change^^ on our world.
Green energy reduces the economy’s dependence on fossil fuels. Achieving net zero emissions by 2050 is a goal that most of the world’s scientists agree we must achieve to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.
To help achieve this, many energy retailers now offer optional green energy plans, though some providers are greener than others. We'll detail these later on in this guide.
What are the 6 types of green energy?
The six main types of green energy in Australia are:
Solar power harnesses the power of the sun to generate renewable electricity. This is achieved through the deployment of solar PV panels that face the sun and absorb sunlight, converting it into usable electricity.
Solar power is mainly generated through large solar panel farms, but household solar panels installed on suburban roofs are also a popular way for people to offset their use of fossil-fuel generated electricity.
Wind power is based around the use of wind turbines spinning large blades to collect the wind’s kinetic energy. The blades are connected to a drive shaft that turns an electric generator to create renewable electricity. There are currently over 100 separate wind farms in Australia, with several more under construction.
Hydropower works in a similar way to wind power, in that it converts kinetic energy from running water to create renewable electricity.
Hydropower is generated by hydroelectric dams, where water pushes blades in a turbine to generate the renewable energy used to power nearby towns. In Australia, Tasmania is the state with the cleanest energy because hydropower generates 80% of their electricity*.
Unlike traditional hydropower, pumped hydro isn't a net generator of electricity. It’s both a storage technology and a power generator, at different times as needed. It can supplement peak power demands very quickly**.
Pumped hydro projects use proven infrastructure, making it more cost-effective than battery storage. There are currently only three operational pumped hydro sites in Australia, but the ANU identified 22,000^ possible pumped hydro sites in Australia. The NSW government has pledged $11 million towards more facilities, starting in Lithgow#.
Geothermal energy harnesses thermal energy from the Earth's crust to create electricity. Geothermal power plants use steam from hot water reservoirs below the Earth’s surface to produce electricity. Like the wind and hydropower, this steam is harnessed to rotate turbines that activate an electricity generator.
Biomass is a type of renewable energy that comes from burning waste (like dead plants or animal waste) to boil water and generate steam, which in turn rotates a turbine and activates a generator (sound familiar?).
Obviously, because biomass involves burning materials it does release some carbon into the atmosphere, but the amount created is significantly less than with traditional fossil fuel power plants.
What are my green energy options in Australia?
The Australian government invests heavily in green technology`. There are currently three main energy options for Australians concerned about the environment:
Installing household solar panels
Choosing carbon offset electricity
Choosing a more environmentally-friendly energy plan and provider means you’re doing your bit to help the earth. You might also enjoy lower power bills along the way.
Is green energy the same as GreenPower?
No. While “green energy” is a catch-all term referring to all environmentally-friendly energy sources, GreenPower is the name for a specific government program empowering Australians to invest in renewable energy projects.
When you opt in to GreenPower, you pay a little extra on top of your regular energy bills. This money is used to purchase certificates which guarantee that your energy provider will match your standard energy usage with energy that is generated from renewable energy sources.
In other words, if you purchase GreenPower you're holding your energy provider accountable for providing electricity to your home that is powered - in part - by green energy sources`.
Can I buy green energy in Australia?
At time of writing, it’s impossible to buy pure green energy in Australia, unless you have solar panels on your roof and use them as your exclusive source of power.
This is because all energy produced in Australia, whether from renewable sources or fossil fuels, is directed to a single source and then redistributed, meaning there's no way of being 100% certain where the energy in your home is actually coming from.
The good news, is that by signing up to GreenPower or switching to a greener electricity provider that offers carbon offsets, you can take some proactive steps to ensure your energy use is less harmful to the planet.
Which energy retailers offer green energy?
There are more green energy providers in Australia than ever before, though some are more green than others. The following providers offer green energy plans in 2023:
Not all of these providers offer a 100% green energy supply, and most are localised to specific regions. The larger brands like AGL, Dodo, and Mojo are GreenPower accredited and are making great strides towards renewable energy sources.
Which are the greenest energy suppliers?
The Green Electricity Guide from GreenPeace lists Enova Energy as the greenest energy company in Australia right now.
This is because Enova draws 100% of their energy from renewable sources and are not involved in coal and gas generation (fossil fuels) at all.
Diamond Energy and Momentum Energy also rank highly on this list.
Is it financially ‘worth it’ to switch to renewable energy?
Switching to green energy isn't just worth it for the sake of protecting the planet; it can also benefit your bank balance.
By shopping around for a reputable energy provider who’s committed to green energy and using our online comparison tool## to find the right deal for you, going green can prove cost-effective.
Does buying green energy make a difference?
Yes. Although there’s still a lot of work to be done to help Australia run efficiently on 100% green energy, buying into green energy programs like GreenPower is a great way to contribute to that work.
After all, our finite energy resources like coal and gas won’t be around forever and the longer we use them, the more damage we’re doing to our planet.
How can I reduce my carbon footprint when it comes to renewable electricity?
When it comes to your green energy usage, the easiest way to reduce your carbon footprint is to simply use less electricity.
That said, we know that this isn't always possible, and it's not the only option out there.
By switching to a reputable green energy provider, you're playing your part to reduce carbon emissions and protect this planet we all call home, while at the same time possibly securing a more cost-effective deal for your home energy usage.
At Compare Club, we make it easy to switch providers in minutes. Use our free online energy comparison tool today to find the right green energy supplier for you, or talk to our team now for more help.COMPARE & SAVE