Ecology: everything you need to know about green energy in 2024

We hear a lot about green energy lately with a mixture of skepticism and hope. Some do not hesitate to affirm that energy will never be completely “renewable”, while others believe that using “clean” energy is already a first step towards the future. It is therefore not always easy to sort through all the information circulating on this subject. In this article, we will therefore try to summarize the essential things to know in 2024 about green energy so that you are up to date.

Reflections on the concept of green energy

Before even discussing the advantages and benefits to be expected by generalizing the production of green energy in France, let's take a look at what this notion corresponds to in concrete terms.

What exactly is green energy?

Green energy stands out thanks to two specific characteristics:

  • She is clean, that is to say that it emits no or very few greenhouse gas emissions.
  • It is renewable, which means that it regenerates naturally and at a faster rate than its consumption. This last clarification is important because although oil regenerates naturally (thermal degradation of organic matter), it takes several million years for animal corpses to “transform” into liquid hydrocarbons.

In fact, the definition of green energy encompasses both the ecological aspect and sustainability. Hence the fact that a supplier of green gas and green electricity like Alterna energy says that using this type of energy is essential to combat climate change.

What are renewable energies and clean energies?

We saw previously that for energy to be renewable, it requires regeneration that is both natural and at a speed greater than actual consumption. In 2024, there are mainly three:

  • Le solar with photovoltaic panels in the spotlight. Remember that these allow sunlight to be transformed into electricity, which is interesting for domestic use. And since sunlight is inexhaustible until proven otherwise, this type of energy will always be renewable.
  • THEeolian with two types of wind turbines which are onshore (on land) and offshore (in the seas and oceans). These both exploit the force of the wind, but offshore ones make it possible to exploit stronger, but also more constant, winds. The only problem: their ecological impacts on the immediate environment which are not yet well documented enough.
  • THEhydraulic which actually represents the largest share of renewable electricity in France. Its operation is simple: hydroelectric power stations are responsible for transforming the kinetic energy of water into electricity.
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Apart from these three renewable energies, you will also hear about geothermal (use of earth heat mainly for heating) andaerothermal (exploitation of the energy contained in the air, heat pumps being the main representatives). Finally, let us also cite the biogas (gas produced by methanization) and the biomass (combustion of organic matter) which will have their role to play in the years to come.

Good to know: toutes les renewable energies cited here are also clean energies, but the reverse is not true. Indeed, nuclear power is today considered a clean energy because it is carbon-free, but it is not renewable since it requires fossil materials to operate.

Navigate the different green energy offers

Now that you know a little more about what green energy encompasses today, we imagine that you might want to subscribe to an offer that describes itself as green. Incidentally, it is not only ecological reasons that are put forward since there are also economic ones. Indeed, by choosing a carbon-free and renewable energy offer, you are in many cases supporting local energy companies (ELD) for a more sustainable future.
But without further ado, let's take a look at the criteria to keep in mind to navigate among all the green energy offers that have tended to multiply in recent months.

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Understanding Guarantees of Origin

Guarantees of Origin (GO) play a major role today in the certification of green electricity. These ensure that for each kWh of electricity consumed, an equivalent quantity of renewable electricity has been produced and then injected into the network. Remember that as we find “gray” (non-renewable) electricity in the network mixed with green electricity, this is the only way to be sure that we are contributing to the energy transition.

The difference between the two levels of the VertVolt label

Apart from Guarantees of Origin, certain green electricity offers go further and are certified by the VertVolt label. As stated the ADEME website, this is useful for simplifying the choice of individuals by providing an additional guarantee. Announced in October 2021, this label is actually divided into two levels:

  • The 1 level which is described as "engaged". It indicates that the supplier purchases a quantity of green electricity equivalent to that which it offers in its offer. Please note that to obtain this label, the supplier must also purchase electricity from renewable energy producers established on French soil.
  • The 2 level who wants to be “very committed”. This certifies the same guarantees as level 1 with an additional condition: that at least 25% of green electricity comes from renewable installations which have been set up by local authorities. In other words, this additional criterion aims to encourage the development of local green infrastructure and to guarantee a real contribution to the energy transition at the national level.
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Good to know: in 2024, still according to ADEME, there will only be 6 electricity offers with the “very committed” VertVolt label in France.

Green gas (or biogas) offers

Green gas, which mainly comes from biomethane, hence its name “biogas”, represents a relevant renewable alternative to natural gas. Although its market is less developed than that of green electricity, green gas offers have experienced rapid growth in recent years. Its price per kWh is therefore tending to fall, which is good news.
But apart from the sole criterion of price, we recommend that you take an interest in percentage of biomethane contained in the offer. This can in fact vary from 5% to 100%, which is far from being the same thing!

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