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What is the distinction between carbon-free and renewable energy?

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Eric Jones's picture
Manager Fin-green

Eric is a manager and author with a passion for clean energy. He has been working in the clean energy sector for over 10 years and has seen the industry grow and evolve. He has written several...

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  • Jan 3, 2023
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The terms carbon-free and renewable energy are often used interchangeably, but there are important differences between the two. Understanding the distinction between the two is important for making informed decisions about energy sources and for meeting environmental goals.

What Is Carbon-Free Energy?

Carbon-free energy is energy that does not produce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions when it is generated. This includes energy sources such as nuclear, solar, and wind power. Carbon-free energy is often referred to as “clean energy” because it does not produce any emissions that contribute to climate change.

What Is Renewable Energy?

Renewable energy is energy generated from sources that are naturally replenished, such as sunlight, wind, water, and geothermal heat. Renewable energy sources are considered to be more sustainable than non-renewable sources, such as coal and oil, because they can be used without depleting the Earth’s resources.

Picturing the Difference

The main difference between carbon-free and renewable energy is that carbon-free energy does not produce any emissions, while renewable energy is generated from sources that are naturally replenished. To illustrate this, consider the example of energy efficient windows. Energy efficient windows reduce the amount of energy needed to heat and cool a building, which in turn reduces the amount of CO2 emissions produced. This is an example of carbon-free energy, since it does not produce any emissions. On the other hand, solar panels generate electricity from the sun’s energy, which is a renewable energy source.

California’s Renewable Energy Goals

In recent years, many states have set ambitious goals for increasing the use of renewable energy. California, for example, has set a goal of achieving 100% carbon-free energy by 2045. This goal includes increasing the use of renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind, as well as reducing the use of non-renewable sources, such as coal and oil. California’s goal is an example of how states are taking action to reduce their carbon footprint and move towards a more sustainable energy future.

In conclusion, carbon-free and renewable energy are two important terms to understand when discussing energy sources and environmental goals. Carbon-free energy does not produce any emissions, while renewable energy is generated from sources that are naturally replenished. California’s goal of achieving 100% carbon-free energy by 2045 is an example of how states are taking action to reduce their carbon footprint and move towards a more sustainable energy future.

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