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What Is Green Power?

  What Is Green Power?   What Are the Benefits of Green Power?  
  What Is Renewable Energy?   Glossary of Green Power Terms  

Renewable energy resources such as solar, wind, geothermal, biogas, biomass and low-impact hydro generate green power. Not all sources of power generation share the same environmental benefits. As a result, green power is considered a subset of renewable energy (Graph 1) and represents those renewable energy sources with the highest environmental benefit.

A green power resource produces electricity with zero anthropogenic (caused by humans) emissions, has a superior environmental profile to conventional power generation, and must have been built after the beginning of the voluntary market (1/1/1997).

Graphic showing Energy Relationships.

Voluntary vs. Mandatory Markets

Mandatory markets exist because of policy decisions, such as Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS), which require electricity service providers to buy a specific amount renewable energy. These markets “push” specific actions — resulting in the development of new renewable generation sources within state boundaries. Mandatory markets often require specific resources by geography, technology or other benefit.

In comparison, consumer preference is the driving force of voluntary green power markets. In voluntary markets, products must have credible benefits that satisfy specific consumer needs. Voluntary markets use consumer preference to “pull” the new development of renewable generation sources.

EPA’s Green Power Partnership serves the voluntary market by providing credible green power purchase requirements, which shows that eligible green power purchases meet nationally accepted standards for size, content, and resource base. In terms of the voluntary green power market, EPA looks to the marketplace when setting eligible resource definitions. Currently, two third-party product certification and verification organizations have developed resource eligibility definitions.

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Explore other sections of this Web site to learn more about how to buy green power and which organizations are already buying green power.

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