The pros and cons of green electricity

The pros

  • Green electricity is produced from renewable raw materials such as wood, crops, waste material from agriculture or forestry or even without using any material resources when based on wind, solar or geothermal energy.
  • As opposed to the combustion of fossil fuels, the generation of green electricity is CO2 neutral. Green electricity generation thus has an important role to play in achieving the targets set by climate policies and agreements (Kyoto Protocol).
  • Green electricity contributes substantially to the long-term goal of energy policy, i.e. sustainably increasing the share of renewable energies in total energy consumption.
  • The generation of green electricity reduces the consumption of finite fossil fuels.
  • The generation of green electricity diminishes our dependency on energy imports.
  • Often, the construction of green electricity plants boosts regional economic development.

The cons

  • Most of the electricity produced in green electricity plants continues to be considerably more expensive than electricity generated in conventional plants and must thus be subsidised.
  • Some technologies for green electricity generation, especially wind power, are highly dependent on the weather and climate conditions.
  • Raw materials such as biomass are agricultural products and are also not infinitely available. What's more, they depend on the markets for raw materials, which are known for strong price variations. Moreover, the use of plants for energy production sometimes rivals with the use of the same crops for human and animal nutrition and is thus challenged in an ethical and moral debate.
  • The construction of some green electricity plants, e.g. hydropower plants, has a lasting impact on the environment.