GreenPower, in the sense that it's defined under the government's GreenPower initiative, is power you buy from an energy provider that's been generated using renewable energy sources like wind or solar energy. It costs slightly more than electricity generated using coal, however the difference you pay is invested in the renewable energy sector to help further development and innovations in renewable energy.
When you elect to use GreenPower, you can choose to have either all of your electricity come from renewable sources, or a percentage thereof.
Why use GreenPower rather than coal?
As a rough example, running a strip heater for an hour is likely to consume 1 kilowatt hour of electricity. Doing that with electricity from a coal-fired electricity generator will have produced 1 kilogram of carbon dioxide (CO2) - the main contributor to human-induced global warming.
Collectively, we generate 300 million tonnes of this stuff annually. If every household reduced greenhouse gas emissions by buying green power, say for 25% of their energy needs, we could reduce annual emissions by 75 million tonnes!
Green power costs more, but it is available to environmentally conscious householders for as little as a few additional cents per kilowatt hour - so that rather than paying 18 cents per kilowatt-hour (for example), you may pay 21 cents. A fixed percentage of your consumption can be charged at the higher (green) rate, with the balance charged at the regular rate.
Is a green kilowatt different from a regular kilowatt?
The green power kilowatts you might end up buying are indistinguishable from ‘black’ kilowatts. But you are not being diddled and paying a premium for no practical result. Some energy companies, for example, have wind farms and they are generating electricity which is fed into the grid.
Think of the grid as a sort of spider web with individual consumers located all over that web - and, of course, also dirty, ‘black’ power stations. All the green subscribers add up to an aggregate amount of energy (each has a fraction of the aggregate) and collectively as well as individually they are apportioned the kilowatt-hours generated by wind farms.
For more information about GreenPower or to find out how you can sign up, visit the Federal Government's GreenPower website.