GreenPower is a government accreditation program whereby customers can choose to pay their retailers extra for renewable energy. The program was initiated in 1997 under the auspices of the state governments of ACT, NSW, SA, QLD and VIC and in cooperation with various NGO's, among which were Greenpeace, the Australian Consumers Association, the Australian Conservation Foundation and the WWF. Over the last decade, the use of GreenPower has exploded among the Australian populace, rising from just 130,000 in 2005 to over 900,000 in 2009 (the last year for which accurate numbers are available at the time of writing).
GreenPower is energy that has been generated from the sun, the wind, water or waste without producing any greenhouse gas emissions. The logo (a 'tick') appears on Australian energy plans and signifies a guarantee from the government that the participating retailer is really using renewable energy for these plans. Often, providers allow customers to choose the share of GreenPower they want, which can range from 10 to 100%. Switching over to a 100% GreenPower-accredited plan allows the average household to cut its greenhouse gas emissions in half. It also stimulate the demand for new clean energy technologies at the same time and reduces water consumption (because fossil fuel generators consume a high amount of water).
- Vision: The vision behind GreenPower is to use market-based strategies to increase consumer demand for renewable energy by improving awareness and consumer choice. The goal is of course to encourage the installation of additional renewable energy generators across the country, which would lead to significant reductions to the Australian population's carbon footprint.
- Differentiation: Other government initiatives have comparable objectives, but are usually mandatory in nature. GreenPower in contrast is a 100% voluntary program. The hundreds of thousands of households and the tens of thousands of businesses who use GreenPower freely lend their (financial) support to renewable energy infrastructure and do so on their own terms and in cooperation with their own trusted retailers.
- Philosophy: The philosophy behind GreenPower is to give the consuming public the power of choice. The current generation is the most environmentally aware in history, but up until recently, many people were simply not in a position to purchase renewable energy for themselves due to a lack of options. Thanks to the GreenPower program, these options now exist and many hundreds of thousands have signed up voluntarily without the need for additional regulations or mandatory requirements.
- Sustainability: 90% of Australia's electricity consumption is still sourced from fossil fuels and over a third of Australia's carbon dioxide emissions are attributable to electricity generation. These facts combine in the realisation that more renewable energy infrastructure is our single greatest hope for drastically reducing our greenhouse gas emissions. An impressive amount of renewable energy generators have popped up all over the country in order to meet the increased consumer demand for clean energy, vindicating GreenPower’s strategy. As of mid-2013, the program has decreased Australia's greenhouse gas emissions by the equivalent of taking 2.2 million cars off the roads.