What is the greenest form of electricity in North America?



  1. 0 Votes

    All forms of electricity generation, including “green” ones, have various problems. Hydropower requires building dams and reservoirs. Geothermal, wind, solar, and tidal power systems must be constructed – using materials from silica to neodymium that must be mined, transported, fabricated, transported again, installed, and maintained – most of which results in pollution, destruction of landscape, burning fossil fuels to do the construction, etc. Once installed, the renewable electricity generating plants are all relatively “green” if that means that they do not then directly emit pollution, carbon dioxide, etc. But there also remain the end uses to which such electricity is put – is it to power a car (that requires a LOT of other products, metals, minerals, oil for plastics, natural gas for tires, etc etc)? or to power a computer or cell phone or flat panel TV (see the extensive discussions of e-waste here on greenanswers). And don’t forget the transmission systems – today, mostly wires – for the electricity; mining the raw materials for those, installing and maintaining them are by no means “pollution free.”

    All forms of power generation have ramifications far beyond whether or not they are relatively free of emissions as they generate electricity – both before the fact and after the fact.

  2. 0 Votes

    In terms of green, I would guess wind or solar since they are completely sustainable and renewable. However, they are not currently practical or 100% reliable in most areas. Some would say waste-to-electric (WTE) is pretty green. In WTE, municipal waste is burnt to generate electricity. This is green in that waste that would otherwise be sitting in landfill is incinerated to reduce volume and to generate electricity. The raw materials for other forms of electricity like nuclear power have to come from somewhere, but raw materials for WTE is the waste we use.

    The downside is the carbon emissions generated by burning municipal waste. Some would argue, however, that this carbon was initially part of nature before being caught and trapped into the waste that was just burnt. For all intents and purposes, they are just returning the carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere from which it was taken.

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