THE Most people tend to confuse the terms clean energy and renewable energy, using both words indifferently as synonyms. But nothing is further from reality since they are different concepts.
Difference between clean and renewable energies
Renewable energy is that which is obtained from a source that does not end . This may be due to the fact that said source is inexhaustible in nature , as is the case with the sun or the wind (at least, and in theory, for millions of years). Although it can also be inexhaustible because the rate of natural replacement of the energy source is greater than the rate of expenditure. This last case, for example, is that of biomass from wood. This can be 100% renewable if the resources that generate wood are replenished at a higher rate than they are used.
Clean energy is that which during its production does not emit harmful elements into the atmosphere or pollutes less compared to other energies.
However, although they are different concepts, they are not exclusive, that is, an energy can be clean and renewable at the same time . Some energies are renewable because they come from an inexhaustible resource and at the same time they are clean because they hardly pollute, but it should be noted that not all clean energies come from renewable sources.
In the same way, there are renewable energies that are not entirely clean since they emit polluting substances into the environment, as for example would be the case of renewable biomass from wood, since burning it produces emissions that contribute to the greenhouse effect.
As we have just seen, in many cases the concepts overlap, but in others they do not. For this reason it is important to know the nuances and differences.
why are they confused
As we have commented before, it is more than usual to talk about clean or renewable energy interchangeably referring to the same concept, but why does this happen? The answer is simple, the confusion arises from the simple fact that many renewable energies can be clean and vice versa, many clean energies can also be renewable.
That is, there are energy sources that have both characteristics simultaneously . This occurs, for example, in the case of wind and solar energy, both energies are clean and renewable at the same time. It is for this reason that people tend to confuse them, using the two terms as if they were synonyms.
But as we have clarified they are not. The line that separates them is very fine and it can happen that the same energy source can be both clean, non-clean, renewable and non-renewable, depending on how it is generated.
Main differences between renewable energy and clean energy
Renewable energy and clean energy are two concepts that refer to two different things. Let’s see below some of the most significant differences between both types of energy:
Renewable energy does not run out, but it may or may not be clean, in the sense that it can produce greenhouse gas emissions.
Clean energy is one that does not emit emissions into the atmosphere or pollute in any way. Or you can get to make those emissions but being climate neutral, that is, the emissions are offset. In this way, this type of energy does not alter the weather conditions or pollute its environment.
Renewable energies come from resources such as the sun, wind, water or terrestrial heat -geothermal-, which offer accelerated renewals. While clean energy can come from these same resources but also from others such as natural gas, which has low polluting emissions that can be considered clean, but not renewable.
Renewable and clean energies
Although they are all sustainable energies , that an energy is renewable does not mean that it is clean, and that an energy is clean does not imply that it is renewable. For this reason, when we refer to non-polluting and unlimited energies, the ideal is to speak of “clean and renewable energies” . Energies that meet these two aspects are the best alternative to fossil fuels and nuclear energy.
The best option is the one that gives us an energy that combines both types of energy. That is to say, a completely sustainable and respectful energy with the environment will be a renewable and clean energy . Among the energies that offer the two great advantages of being green and also renewable are:
Solar energy. It offers great potential for self-consumption of electricity. Solar energy can be of two types:
Photovoltaic energy . It is obtained through solar panels that transform the sun’s energy into electrical energy.
Thermal energy . Solar panels convert the sun’s energy into thermal energy, which is used for heating or hot water.
Wind power . It is obtained by means of mills whose blades generate electrical energy when moved by the wind.
Geothermal energy . It takes advantage of the heat from the interior of the earth to transform it into thermal energy.
Hydraulic power . Harnesses the force of water through hydraulic turbines to obtain electricity.
Marine energy . It is obtained from the force of the tides (tidal) or the force of the waves (wave).
Clean and renewable energies are inexhaustible and are a crucial element in the fight against climate change. In addition to this, they do not entail risks to human health, they provide energy independence to countries, they are completely sustainable and they are increasingly competitive . The reasons for using clean renewable energies are many and of great weight.