Renewable energy faqs
Renewable energy continues to develop, reworked and expanded everyday. From large-scale government investments to smart bins, there’s not one area renewable energy hasn’t touched.
But have you ever stopped to think about how exactly renewable energy could play a role in your daily life or help cut the cost of your energy bill? In this guide, we’ve answered some frequently asked questions about renewable energy and what it all means for energy options for your home.
What is renewable energy and how is it generated?
Renewable energy is a type of energy source that uses nature’s power, such as the sun, wind and water to generate electricity. Unlike fossil fuels, which release carbon emissions into the atmosphere when burnt, renewable energy does not produce any greenhouse gases and is replenishable, making it a cleaner, more efficient energy source.
For instance, solar panels soak up the sun’s rays to produce electricity, while wind energy and hydropower electricity is generated by spinning a turbine.
How can I use renewable energy in my home?
There are two ways to have renewable energy supplied into your home: switching to an energy retailer that offers green energy plans or installing solar panels.
Choosing to install solar panels will allow you to generate your own electricity using sunlight - though you’ll still need to be connected with an energy retailer. If your solar panels regularly generate enough electricity for your home, you could save a bundle on your electricity bill and even be paid to pump any excess electricity generated back into the grid.
On the other hand, many energy retailers offer green energy plans that allow you to buy some or all of your electricity needs from renewable sources. So if you’re not ready to take the plunge with solar panels just yet, this could be the option for you. You can compare green energy plans available in your area by using our handy energy comparison tool.
What is a green energy plan?
Once you start comparing green energy plans, you’ll find that every retailer has their own way of either generating or purchasing renewable energy from their network. One common green energy plan is one where you can sponsor a percentage of your energy usage (from 10% to 100%) to be generated from renewable sources. Although this renewable energy won’t be supplied to your home, your electricity retailer will purchase it on your behalf and feed it back into the grid.
Some retailers like Powershop even let you pick the renewable industry you want to support such as community energy projects, landfill gas, energy from sugar milling and other wind farms.
Many energy retailers offer certified GreenPower Products, which can be identified by the GreenPower ‘tick’ logo.
What is GreenPower?
The GreenPower Program is a government managed scheme that allows Australian households and businesses to match their electricity usage with certified renewable energy, which is then pumped into the grid by their provider on their behalf. When you purchase a GreenPower certified product from your energy retailer, they buy the equivalent amount of electricity as nominated by you from accredited renewable energy generators, which generate electricity from sources like wind, solar, water and bioenergy.
Why is GreenPower more expensive than standard electricity?
GreenPower plans have a higher tariff than standard electricity plans because currently it entails building a new infrastructure for the grid. However, like any other new technology, as the infrastructure develops and the demand for renewable energy rises, the costs should decline over time.
In general, the cost of GreenPower is around 5-8 cents per kWh more than the standard current electricity rate, when you choose to buy 100% GreenPower. If you were to opt for a relatively smaller proportion of 10-25% GreenPower, you will only have to pay about 80 cents to $1 a week.
What is the advantage of opting for a green plan?
For many Aussies, having the power to reduce your household’s carbon footprint by sponsoring all or a portion of your electricity usage is a massive benefit of opting for a green energy plan.
In doing so, you’ll also be supporting the country’s effort to save the environment and contribute toward our Renewable Energy Target (RET). For instance, since 2009 GreenPower customers have saved more than 9.7 million tonnes of greenhouse gases from being released into our atmosphere.
What is the Renewable Energy Target?
The RET is a Federal Government policy designed to ensure that 33,000 Gigawatt-hour (GWh) of Australia's electricity comes from renewable sources by 2020. This implies that by 2020, approximately 23.5% of Australia’s electricity generation will be from sustainable sources. The RET is broken up into two schemes: the Large-scale Renewable Energy Target (LSRET) and the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme (SRES).
The LSRET requires high-energy users to source a portion of their electricity needs from a renewable resource, while the SRES works to provide a financial incentive for individuals and small businesses to install small-scale renewable energy systems, like solar panels and solar heating systems.
In September 2019, the Clean Energy Regulator announced that Australia had met the LRET well ahead of schedule. However, the SRES will continue to run until 2030.
How can I choose a renewable energy plan for my home?
If you want to make an environment-friendly choice to reduce your household’s carbon footprint, Mozo’s energy comparison tool can help you make the switch to a green power plan.