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How do you consume only renewable energy?

It's very likely that your commitment to the environment means you are looking to find ways to reduce your impact on the planet. For example: be able to say that your house is powered by green energy. How can you exclusively consume renewable energy and emissions-neutral gas? And ensure that it really is 100% renewable? We explain how you can have a clear green conscience right down to the switches in your home.

Renewable, sustainable, green... If we start talking about energy there are many labels that indicate its eco- or environment-friendly qualities. This is why it is important to start by shedding light on several concepts.

 

Differences between renewable, sustainable and green energy

  • Renewable energy: energy obtained from something that, for as long as the planet lasts, is never going to run out. This applies to solar, wind, hydro and also other less widespread types of energy such as geothermal and tidal. We have sun, wind, water, tides... potentially inexhaustible renewable resources for the generation of power. The opposite of renewable would be non-renewable. those types of energy that require a fuel that may run out such as coal or oil.
  • Sustainable energy: here the focus is different and what we are talking about is energy sources that are not going to impact on the wellbeing of future generations. While renewable energies are generally sustainable, in some cases they may not be. For example: A hydroelectric plant that involves building a dam that changes an ecosystem forever, changing the lives of the grandchildren of those who made the decision. Or biomass, energy obtained from the burning of organic waste. It is renewable because organic waste is never going to be in short supply but the question is where this waste will be obtained from. If it is waste, it would be renewable and sustainable. If we decided to alter a habitat to generate biomass (to cut down forests to plant an energy crop that will feed the biomass), then it would be renewable but not sustainable.
  • Green energy: this term has become a little confusing, using various shades of green to try to convey whether we are talking about renewables, sustainables or renewables and sustainables. Fortunately, the Spanish Markets and Competition Commission (CNMC) is responsible for certifying the true renewable nature of the kWh of energy sold in Spain.

How to consume only renewable electricity

So is it possible to guarantee that all of the electricity supplied to our house is of renewable origin? In reality, the energy that reaches your home comes from the national grid, where the whole mix of available energies, both renewable and non-renewable, converges. It is impossible to know exactly what source of energy you're consuming at any time.

The most important thing, however, is that it is perfectly possible to strive for ever more renewable energy to be generated in Spain. So how can this be done? By ensuring that your energy company will go to market to buy 100% renewable energy to cover, at least, all of the kWh that you consume. 

For clarity purposes we're going to provide an example:

  1. You find a unique option that guarantees that 100% renewable energy will be purchased on the wholesale market.
  2. The CNMC guarantees that 100% renewable energy has been purchased to cover the kWh consumed by all the people who have chosen this unique option.
  3. More and more people are choosing this option, more and more renewable energy needs to be purchased, more and more renewable energy needs to be generated... And the overall result is that CO2 emissions are cut and the planet benefits.

This option exists and you can sign up for it. It's Única by Endesa, with a commitment to 100% sustainable and 100% renewable energy. With no loyalty requirement and with the peace of mind of knowing that you will pay exactly the same amount every month (a customised instalment based on your consumption profile).

How to consume only sustainable gas

In the case of natural gas the situation differs slightly.

  • It is not a renewable energy: the fuel is underground pockets of gas, which one day will run out.
  • It is not zero-emission: although the amount of CO2 released into the atmosphere from this energy source is low, it cannot be said to be zero.

So how can we make a commitment to the environment by consuming natural gas? The carbon footprint associated with gas consumption can be balanced if we manage to offset it with projects that capture the equivalent of the CO2 emitted.

If we plant an entire forest, the amount of CO2 captured by all this plant matter offsets the emission of CO2 linked to gas consumption. Forests have a sink effect (they absorb CO2 from the atmosphere and release oxygen) that helps us achieve a neutral emissions balance: I avoid as much as I emit.

What's more, these projects are accredited as sustainable: they achieve social benefits for the local population and help preserve vulnerable species.

Única by Endesa promotes this type of project and undertakes, audited by international bodies, to achieve a neutral emissions balance for all of its gas customers. The more gas these customers consume, the more these sustainable projects will grow. 

Única currently covers the consumption of its clients for the entirety of 2020 with the Weyerhaeuser Uruguay reforestation project. In this video you can find out about an adventure that involves the capture of 10,000 tonnes of CO2, creates 260 jobs and provides resources for rural schools.

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