The only clean energy explanation you’ll need

We all experience the subtle effects of climate change every day, most often with changes in weather and weather patterns. Rising temperatures produce hotter summers – and summer nights – which can cause sleep issues, for example. And for those of us who suffer from seasonal allergies, flare ups may seem more intense or arriving at odd times.


These reasons, among many more, are why sustainability – reducing waste, recycling, cutting greenhouse gases – is top of mind for so many people. We all want to reduce our carbon footprint any way we can. In fact, when we shop for products and services, nearly 88% of us consider a company’s sustainability efforts as a factor for doing business.


That includes the energy that fuels our homes and business.

What is clean energy?

Clean energy refers to energy produced with little to no greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). This includes low-carbon and carbon-free energy sources such as nuclear. It is a growing, popular consumer option.


You’ll often hear people talk about clean energy and renewable energy interchangeably, but there is a difference between the two. Clean energy is divided into two types: renewable and sustainable.

  • Renewable energy, also called green energy or green power, refers to energy that comes from natural resources, such as wind, solar, and water. All renewable resources are considered “clean,” though there is some debate over the impact of large-scale hydroelectric dams and wind farms on local wildlife. In 2022, renewable energy sources accounted for about 12.4% of total U.S. primary energy consumption, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
  • Sustainable energy refers to energy sources that will not be depleted for the foreseeable future. All sources of renewable energy are considered sustainable. While nuclear energy is not always considered renewable, it is widely considered sustainable due to its lack of pollution and abundant supply.

When we talk about clean, carbon-free energy, we often refer to an energy source’s reliability and capacity.

  • Reliability refers to the ability to provide a steady supply of power, like fossil fuels, nuclear and hydroelectric. Sources like solar and wind offer an intermittent supply that can fluctuate by time of day or changes in weather.
  • Capacity is the ability to generate a significant share of the energy supply and meet additional demand as demand fluctuates. Fossil fuels and nuclear supply 86.6% of U.S. energy needs. Significant investment in infrastructure, energy storage and other clean energy technologies is needed before renewables can replace the supply provided by fossil fuels.

What are the top 4 benefits of clean energy?

Beyond its positive impact on climate change, there are several environmental benefits and economic benefits to choosing clean energy.

1. Increased health

Fossil fuels do more than damage our climate. They create more water and air pollution. Waste emitted into the air and the water table by traditional energy plants is linked to lung disease, heart disease, cancer and more. Coal pollution alone costs public health efforts nearly $75 billion a year, according to one Harvard University study.


Since nuclear, solar power, wind power and other clean energy resources do not emit the same damaging waste as fossil
fuel plants, those negative effects are virtually nullified.

2. Economic growth

As more consumers search for clean and renewable energy companies that offer a choice, industry infrastructure grows and the need for skilled workers increases. The demand for nuclear power is on an upswing globally, with capacity additions to double in the next 25 years, reports S&P Global.


Innovation will positively impact the U.S. and global economy, too. Dozens of small modular reactors (SMRs) and advanced designs of new reactors are in motion, reports S&P Global, fueled by public and private investment.

3. Stability

Even though a global pandemic, inflation, and the war in Ukraine caused a spike in energy prices in the early 2020s, clean energy companies were able to keep production stable and reliable. That stability helps mitigate fluctuating energy prices.

4. Reliability

Nuclear power is considered the most reliable energy source because of its capacity factor, producing the most power it possibly can 92% of the time. That’s double coal’s capacity and, in many cases, four times the capacity of most renewable energy resources. For that reason, nuclear has supplied one-fifth of the U.S.’s power over the last 30-plus years.

What are some popular clean energy sources?

There are many ways to purchase clean energy. Below are a few of the most popular and available clean energy options and their comparative strengths:

Nuclear energy is the largest non-fossil fuel electricity generation source in the United States. Nuclear power plants produced 790 billion kilowatt hours of electricity in 2020. Commercial nuclear power plants have supplied around 20 percent of the nation’s electricity each year since 1990. In 2020, nuclear generation supplied nearly 52% of all clean energy in the U.S. – more than all other sources of clean energy combined.


Nuclear plants use nuclear fission to generate electricity. Nuclear power plants are virtually always producing, providing valuable base-load electricity to communities. More than 471 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions were avoided in 2020 due to the electricity generated by nuclear power.


Choosing an energy supplier that also generates safe, reliable, carbon-free nuclear energy is an easy way to help ensure a low-carbon future.

Solar energy is a popular and fast growing renewable option for powering homes and businesses. In 2022 almost half the planned capacity additions will be solar.


In a conventional solar energy installation, solar panels are used to capture and convert sunlight into electricity. A wide range of consumers can adopt solar energy, from small-scale residential to large universities. Solar installations can be simple, such as rooftop panels to help power homes. Commercial use of solar often incorporates additional elements, such as battery storage.


Those who adopt solar energy systems for their homes benefit from increased home value and potentially lower energy costs, but high installation costs reduce overall savings. Solar reliability also can be challenging, since solar panels cannot charge at night and may be affected by inclement weather.

Wind energy represents around 8.4 percent of utility-scale electricity generation in the United States. Wind power is produced by a turbine system. Wind blows and turns blades connected to an electric generator to produce electricity. Land based and offshore wind farms operate across the country and continue to grow. Community and residential wind projects can be viable renewable energy options for customers with an appropriate amount of land.


While wind energy is clean and renewable, it's not without its limitations. Wind energy requires a lot of space, isn't equally available across geographies, and has similar reliability challenges to solar when the wind isn't blowing.

What are my clean electricity options?

Energy Harbor offers customers a wide selection of affordable carbon-free, clean energy plans that help protect the environment and slow global warming.


Energy Harbor also provides customers with simple and affordable access to clean energy by offering Emission Free Energy Certificates (EFECs). EFECs help consumers make more sustainable choices without significant expense and effort. Energy Harbor is one of the few retailers able to do this because our three carbon-free nuclear power generation units can generate more than 30 million EFECs annually.


Ready to help save the planet? Compare clean energy plans in your area today.