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    Explained: What is clean energy? And is it really clean?

    Explained: What is clean energy? And is it really clean?

    Explained: What is clean energy? And is it really clean?
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    By CNBCTV18.com  IST (Updated)

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    Clean energy is energy that produces very little to no greenhouse emissions over its lifecycle. The world is making efforts to replace polluting sources of energy with clean energy in order to stop the planet from heating up.

    The average temperature of the world is rising rapidly due to the actions of humans over the past 200 years. As temperature rises and climate change becomes an increasingly unavoidable threat, the world is making commitments to try and keep the temperature increase to 1.5°C by the turn of the century.
    In order to achieve such a goal, nations have committed to reducing carbon emissions and in some cases, reaching net-zero emissions by the middle of the century in order to keep climate change in control. One of the biggest objectives in reaching net-zero emissions is to adopt measures of clean energy.
    What is clean energy?
    Clean energy is an umbrella term for energy sources that don’t produce large amounts of carbon emissions during their generation. While clean energy sources are also often renewable energy sources, the two are not quite the same. Renewable energy refers to sources of energy that are natural resources that will replenish after consumption, either through natural reproduction or other recurring processes.
    Examples of clean energy include solar power, hydroelectricity, wind energy, geothermal energy, nuclear energy and more. Clean energy does not produce carbon emissions or other greenhouse gases during their lifecycle and prevents the further worsening of climate change.
    An example of non-renewable clean energy is nuclear energy.
    Why is it important?
    Clean energy is an important tool in the fight against climate change due to the amount of emissions produced by the power sector globally. Electricity and heating are the biggest consumers of fossil fuels and thus the largest emitters of CO2 and other greenhouse gases in the world, as pointed out by the IPCC in its 2014 report.
    As the world becomes more electrified and continues to achieve better economic progress, the global demand for electricity is only continuing to grow. The increasing demand for electricity is not expected to taper out anytime soon. By replacing highly polluting sources of energy like coal, natural gas, oil and others, with clean sources of energy the world can work to eliminate nearly 25 percent of the global greenhouse emissions, if not more.
    Not all clean energy is clean 
    While clean energy offers much less carbon emission during its energy production lifespan, countries, scientists, and experts must ensure that they also emit fewer greenhouses than fossil fuel sources over their entire lifespan. The emission cost of setting up plants, raw materials and more should be calculated to understand the true impact of clean energy sources, and the same must be done for fossil-fuel power plants to have a level playing field.
    Recent studies into alternative fuels like hydrogen have shown that the method of extraction can wildly influence the total amount of emission produced by an energy source.  Experts warn that emissions from producing blue hydrogen could be 20 percent worse for the climate than using gas. Blue Hydrogen is extracted using methane or natural gas (CH4), with the added step of capturing and storing the carbon dioxide released into the ground. In comparison, the highly expensive green hydrogen is manufactured from electrolysing water, H20.

    Nuclear energy is one of the lowest carbon-emitting sources of energy but has faced political and ideological resistance in many countries. Over the course of its lifespan, a nuclear power plant manages to produce one of the cleanest and cheapest energy supplies currently available on the planet. But the fear of nuclear accidents, association with nuclear weapons, risk of terrorist attacks at nuclear power plants, the proliferation of nuclear waste, waste disposal of nuclear material and the economics of a nuclear fuel-based economy are often some of the factors influencing the widespread adoption of nuclear energy in the world.

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