Large scale solar retrofit trial for coal power station
Large scale solar retrofit trial for coal power station

Greenpower is renewable energy sourced from the sun, the wind, water and waste.

Greenpower in Australia

In Australia, more than 645,000 households and businesses buy GreenPower, which is regarded by many as part of the solution to climate change. Switching to GreenPower is an investment – the more households and workplaces that make the switch, the bigger the return for the environment.

GreenPower is a national accreditation program that sets stringent environmental and reporting standards for renewable electricity products offered by energy suppliers to households and businesses across Australia. GreenPower aims to increase Australia’s capacity to produce environmentally friendly renewable electricity by driving demand for alternative energy generation.

  • GreenPower’s residential and business customers in Australia have already contributed to cutting greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to taking one million cars off the roads since its introduction in 1997.
  • Since 1997, more than 724,000 residential and commercial customers Australia wide have contributed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by buying GreenPower, resulting in estimated savings of over 4.8 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions.

How the Australian Greenpower scheme works

When you switch to accredited GreenPower, you’re instructing your electricity supplier to purchase your nominated percentage of GreenPower from new renewable sources, rather than coal fired power stations.

You still receive your electricity in the normal way, but every kilowatt hour of the nominated percentage of GreenPower you purchased will be supplied into the grid from an accredited renewable source.

However, there is no onus on the electricity supplier to reduce their purchase of coal fired power by a corresponding amount. They will only be able to do this if they have real time measurement of their (wholesale) electricity supplies from both coal fired and renewable sources. Ask your retailer whether they have real time monitoring of electricity sources in place.

Green power compared with solar panels

Many people ask the question “which is the more effective (or cost effective) means of reducing my carbon emissions – buying green power or installing solar panels on my house?”. The following table lists advantages and disadvantages of both approaches.

Solar panelsGreen electricity produced direcly measurableDirect link to emission reductionsGenerate power during peak periods (e.g. daytime in hot weather)Expensive to buyExpensive to installAncillary equipment such as inverter requiredLower power production when less sunIf RECs for panels are given to power company there is less incentive for them to purchase more renewable energy
Green powerRelatively cheap and easy to purchaseEconomies of scale (e.g. large windfarms or solar plants)Variable products available from multiple providersNo direct link to emission reductions unless retailer commits to thisVariation in greenpower schemes from 10% renewable to 100% renewableAccreditation not mandatory – some risk of scamsDependency on power companies to reduce emissionsReal time monitoring of power supplies is required to reduce power companies purchasing of coal fired power

See also

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