Green Energy: How and Why to Switch
These days, many of us are concerned about energy – more specifically, consumers have begun to put more thought into where their energy comes from, how the production of the energy they use affects the environment and how they can increase their energy efficiency. For some people, that may mean something as small as changing out their old incandescent lights for LEDs. For others, it could mean something like investing in a net-zero home or building, where the amount of energy used by the building is equal to the amount of renewable energy produced by the building.
Otherwise, consumers are looking to do their part by choosing to support businesses that are making visible efforts to be more eco-friendly, in addition to going green themselves. According to a BDC Study on consumer trends, over half of all global consumers take into account green factors when making purchasing decisions.
However, some business owners worry about the business challenges associated with switching to clean energy, with larger costs being an issue. However, it may not be as large as a concern as you think.
The same consumer trends study done by the Business Development Bank of Canada found that four in 10 consumers in the United States and Canada would be willing to pay slightly more for services or products they know are environmentally friendly. Energy suppliers are even providing incentives for consumers and businesses to switch to over to green energy.
Whether you’re not sure where to start when it comes to integrating alternative power sources into a large commercial enterprise or if you’re just unsure what green power options are available for your small business, this guide is a great place to start.
Do you want to learn how to increase your company’s renewables portfolio? Below, you can find the definition of green energy, more information on sources of renewable energy such as solar energy, wind energy and hydro power, as well as details on renewable energy for businesses and renewable energy options for the industry sector.
What is green energy for businesses?
Let’s start off by defining what exactly green energy is. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines green energy (also known as green power) as “a subset of renewable energy and represents those renewable energy resources and technologies that provide the highest environmental benefit”. Green energy is also referred to as sustainable energy, which the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership defines as supplying energy in such a way where it will meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own energy needs.
By using green energy, we can limit the amount of environmental harm that occurs from obtaining energy as well as ensure that future generations will still have a habitable environment and the ability to sustain their own energy needs. Below, we’ve discussed in more detail the benefits of green energy as well as some types of sustainable energy.
Benefits of green energy for businesses
Choosing to produce and use green energy can be beneficial in several ways. According to the energy experts from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, fossil fuels (namely petroleum, natural gas and coal) have provided 87% of the USA’s primary energy over the past decade. Things haven’t been much different for Canada for the most part – fossil fuel energy consumption was at 74.09% in 2015, according to the Fossil fuel energy consumption (% of total) – Canada chart by the World Bank.
By using and producing green energy, there will be a reduction in the amount of carbon emissions and greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming. In addition to slowing global warming, the amount of air pollution present will decrease as everybody transitions away from being reliant on fossil fuels. According to the World Health Organization, reducing air pollution levels will greatly lessen the burden of disease from respiratory illnesses (such as asthma) as well as other diseases like lung cancer and heart disease.
As we touched on earlier, more and more people are searching for more green products and services. According to the results of the Tork Green Business Survey commissioned by the SCA, 86% of Canadians are buying green. In other words, businesses offering products or services that support green energy initiatives are likely to benefit since the majority of Canadians take into account sustainability and environmental consequences for their purchases.
If you’re worried about completely shouldering the cost of switching over to green energy, did you know that Canadians are willing to pay more for ‘green’ services? The Tork Green Business survey found that 31% of Canadians would be willing to pay up to 10% more for such services, 10% of Canadians would pay between 10 and 20% more and around two percent of Canadians would pay 20% more than they pay today for green products and services.
In addition to this, investing in green and sustainable solutions for energy can help the economy – the clean energy sector attracts tens of billions of dollars in investment each year.
Overall, almost everyone can benefit from the increased usage and production of green energy, whether it’s on a global scale or a personal one.
Now that you know how everyone can benefit from green energy, we’ve listed and described several types of green energy below, plus how you can support the generation of green energy.
What renewable business energy options are available?
These are the most common types of green energy for businesses:
- Wind power
- Solar power
- Geothermal energy
- Tidal energy
How Your Company Can Contribute to the Generation of Green Energy
Below are some green energy solutions for companies.
1. Renewable Energy Credits (RECs)
One way to support green energy production is through renewable energy credits. Renewable energy credits are certificates granted by the government to a power company that uses environmentally or ‘green’ methods to generate energy. In other words, RECs represent the green power that has been fed into the energy grid.
When these power companies generate enough green energy (typically around one megawatt-hour of electricity), they are presented with a renewable energy credit that they can then sell to businesses or consumers who are interested in supporting the production of green energy. It’s important to note that purchasing a renewable energy credit doesn’t necessarily mean that the energy provided to your building will be from a renewable source.
2. Green energy plans and clean energy add-ons
Some power providers provide green energy rates/plans or clean energy add-ons. For example, in Canada, ATCOenergy allows you to base between 25% to 100% of your energy plan on renewable resources, while other energy providers such as Just Energy provide you with access to renewable energy and renewable energy credits.
Micro-generation, also known as on-site generation, is the production of electricity from clean sources on a micro-scale. The requirements to become a micro-generator vary from province to province – in Alberta, some of the main criteria include using renewable or alternative energy sources, the intent to generate all or a part of your total electricity consumption, having a total nameplate capacity that doesn’t exceed 5 MW and generating electricity only to a site that is owned or leased by the generator.
4. Carbon offsets
Carbon offsets are credits given to one party that can be sold to another party. The idea is that they offset emissions by preventing the same amount of pollution elsewhere. For example, if you’re a large emitter, you can offset your impact through funding projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
5. Energy efficiency
You and your business can benefit directly via financial incentives or programs offered by your province to help absorb the costs associated with purchasing renewable energy products or the costs associated with energy efficiency upgrades. You can find the financial incentives or programs available for your province on the Government of Canada website here. While energy efficiency upgrades have some cost associated with them initially, the amount of energy you save from these upgrades will often more than cover the initial cost.
Compare green energy rates in Canada
Regardless of if your energy comes from a green energy source or not, electricity costs can add up to be a lot. To free up some of your budget, why not compare energy rates to see if you’re paying as little as possible?
EnergyRates.ca is a free and unbiased cost comparison tool that can help you compare all the energy rates available in your area.
You can even find helpful resources such as this post on geothermal energy in Alberta that can help you learn more about green energy in Alberta and in other Canadian provinces, including Saskatchewan, Ontario, British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec.
Whether you’re looking for renewable energy for your business or a better energy plan, small business, small commercial, large commercial and industrial electricity and natural gas consumers can even get a free quote based on their energy consumption and needs. We can provide you with a list of energy suppliers and plans that fit your financial and sustainability goals.
Using EnergyRates.ca is easy – all you need to do is fill in the form above to find the best energy rates in your area.