Despite being used interchangeably, renewable energy and clean energy have some key differences. Even though somewhat minor, these differences in definition play a vital role in politics, government policy, companies, and more. So instead of wrongly using these terms, dive into the difference between clean energy and renewable energy. Not only will you have a stronger grasp of the future of energy sources, but you’ll also understand the terminology and phrasing that can drastically impact state, local, and federal policies.

Why is renewable energy considered clean energy?

Renewable energy is an energy source that provides a limitless or endless amount of power. Essentially, these sources can replenish themselves naturally and won’t become depleted with overuse or excessive use.

Clean energy sources are simply sources of energy that provide zero carbon emissions or pollution. This is a far broader term, encompassing renewable and natural energy sources, as well as those that produce no emissions, such as hydrogen fuel cells.

After sorting out the definitions, renewable energy certainly falls under the umbrella term of clean energy, but the converse isn’t necessarily true.

Are all renewable energy sources clean?

Although there’s a common misconception that all renewable energy sources are also clean energy sources, this statement simply isn’t true. For example, nuclear power, provided it doesn’t produce a meltdown, is technically a clean energy source because it produces no emissions, but it isn’t renewable. Bio-gases would also fall under this definition, as they are often clean energy but not renewable as the amount of the source materials is limited.

What are examples of clean energy and renewable energy?

To further differentiate between clean energy and renewable energy, examples are crucial. If you still can’t wrap your head around what energy sources are clean or renewable, this should help clarify the situation.

Examples of Renewable Energy

Renewable energy can be replenished by nature. Thus, anything that naturally produces power is almost always renewable. This includes:

  • Solar power
  • Wind power
  • Hydropower
  • Geothermal energy
  • Some types of biomass energy or power

Examples of Clean Energy

All of the examples above fall under the term of clean energy, but clean energy also has a number of other sources that aren’t renewable. Some of the most common examples of clean energy include:

  • Natural gas, which falls under this term because it produces so little emissions
  • Nuclear power

Is clean energy more efficient?

Despite lobbyists showcasing that non-renewable energy sources such as coal or oil are more efficient, this is only a partial truth. Coal has about 33% efficiency compared to 50% efficiency of biomass, 28% efficiency of hydroelectric, and 18% efficiency of wind power. Other forms are less efficient, but on the whole, there’s little difference between the efficiency of non-renewable and clean energy resources.

Are renewable energy and clean energy the sources of the future?

Both renewable energy and clean energy will become more important for power as time goes on and more non-renewable energy sources become depleted. Add in the campaigning and worldwide effort to curb global warming, and the usage of renewable and clean energy sources looks bright.

If this is still confusing, we’re here to help.  Our team of experienced renewable energy consultants will work closely with your business to provide you with all the options available.  From incentives to renewable energy options that have a great return on investment and everything in between.  Contact us to schedule a consultation today.