Here you will find answers to common questions surrounding clean and renewable energy in North Carolina. Don’t see your question? Please email or call us with your question and we’ll be happy to provide an answer and list it on this website for others to see!

What are the differences between energy efficiency, clean energy and renewable energy?  

Energy efficiency is a measurement for the rate at which energy is used. In homes and buildings, residents and office workers should want to lower their energy usage to save on utility bills and can do so by making their home or building more energy efficient, which means lowering the amount at which the home or building uses energy on a daily, monthly or annual basis.

  • Clean energy is known as the various ways in which energy can be produced and supplied in clean manners. Clean energy includes solar energy, thermal energy, wind energy and other forms of energy generation that use none or very little natural resources like oil, coal and natural gas.
  • Renewable energy is known as energy produced from renewable resources, such as solar energy from the sun, wind energy and hydropower that uses water to produce energy.
  • Energy efficiency and renewable energy are both considered parts of clean energy.

What about fossil fuels?

Currently, fossil fuels provide around 66 percent of the world’s electrical power, and 95 percent of the world’s total energy demands (heating, transport, electricity generation, etc.).  These power plants burn the fossil fuels to make our electricity and in that process greenhouse gas is made, including carbon dioxide and methane.

To some, clean energy also means nuclear energy.  Clean energy technologies are generally defined as those that:

  • Reduce energy consumption
  • Do less harm to the environment
  • Increase the supply of renewable energy to enable the transition to a renewable-based energy economy
  • Improve the efficiency of energy use in homes or industry
  • Improve the processes and systems that use energy
  • Enable energy solutions to infiltrate the marketplace

For more information on all of the different types of clean energy concentrations, visit the North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center (NCCETC) website.

Does energy production and usage have a toll on the environment? 

Unfortunately, most common types of energy production in North Carolina that include coal and natural gas do have a negative impact on the environment.  Energy efficiency was recently touted as the “most cost effective manner to reduce carbon emissions” in the U.S. due to the opportunity to “lessen the load” of what energy and resources we are currently using in order to reduce our environmental impact.

Clean and renewable energy, such as solar and wind, also have some negative impact on the environment, though not nearly as detrimental as traditional sources such as coal and natural gas.  Click here for more information on this topic.

Since the vast majority of our electric generation comes from burning fossil fuels, every time you buy a home appliance, have maintenance done on an HVAC system, or replace a burned-out light bulb, you’re making a decision that affects the environment. The energy conserved by energy-efficiency actions has a direct relationship to environmental health.

  • Carbon dioxide (CO₂) is the number one contributor to climate change and is probably the most discussed, but is only one of the environmentally harmful gases resulting from energy use. Others, such as sulfur dioxide, nitrous oxide, carbon monoxide, and ozone, have much more direct effects — effects that can be seen and smelled in major urban areas of the US.
  • Coal accounts for 45% of the nation’s electricity generation — but 81% of the CO₂ emissions and 94% of the emissions of sulfur dioxide.
  • Natural gas accounts for 27% of the nation’s electricity generation – the fossil fuel can be found in deep underground rock where decomposed plants and animal matter reside.
  • Extracting fossil fuels like coal and oil from underground disturbs and contaminates underground water supplies. This contamination pollutes the water and can render it unsuitable for human or animal consumption.
  • The potential for oil spills is a well-known hazard of our dependence on fossil fuels. By reducing the amount of energy we consume we are also reducing the amount of oil that must be transported around the world.

Interested in reducing the carbon footprint of your home or business?  Click here to learn more about NC GreenPower, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit whose mission is to improve the quality of the environment in North Carolina through a statewide program that connects consumers with green energy and carbon offset providers.

How can I use solar at my home?

  • Utilizing solar panels can offset your electric utility bill and save you money
  • Solar panels are generally maintenance free.
  • With solar you are locked into a stable energy rate for the duration of the life of a solar system (typically 25-30-years).
  • Solar Panels use power from the sun.  Reduce your reliance on electricity generated by fossil fuels, help to save the environment.

How does battery or energy storage work?

  • Battery storage allows you to use your solar power by day and utilize stored solar energy by night.  This reduces your electric bills by using energy generated and stored during the day.
  • Energy storage offers greater stability and reliability by serving as a backup source of energy during grid outages and storms.

How do electric vehicles (EVs) relate to clean energy?

  • Combined with solar and/or solar storage, homeowners can get closer to net zero energy usage and reduce carbon emissions by charging their electric vehicle at home using solar power produced during the day or stored at night.

 

Helpful Links and Case Studies:

  • Cities like Tucson, AZ, Carbondale, CO and Chula Vista, CA have developed requirements or incentives for new homes to be “solar ready,” as installed costs of solar have decreased exponentially in recent years.
  • Solar for Low and Moderate Income Communities: A Guide for States and Municipalities
  • Solar basics for homebuilders: A breakdown of the benefits, designs, equpiment, and financing examples for a residential homeowner.