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Portal:Renewable energy

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Introduction

Burbo Bank Offshore Wind Farm, at the entrance to the River Mersey in North West England.

Renewable energy is generally defined as energy that comes from resources which are naturally replenished on a human timescale such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, waves and geothermal heat. Renewable energy replaces conventional fuels in four distinct areas: electricity generation, hot water/space heating, motor fuels, and rural (off-grid) energy services.

Based on REN21's 2014 report, renewables contributed 19 percent to our energy consumption and 22 percent to our electricity generation in 2012 and 2013, respectively. Modern renewables (such as hydro, wind, solar and biofuels) and traditional biomass contributed in about equal parts to the global energy supply. Worldwide investments in renewable technologies amounted to more than US$ 214 billion in 2013, with countries like China and the United States heavily investing in wind, hydro, solar and biofuels.

Renewable energy resources exist over wide geographical areas, in contrast to other energy sources, which are concentrated in a limited number of countries. Rapid deployment of renewable energy and energy efficiency is resulting in significant energy security, climate change mitigation, and economic benefits. In international public opinion surveys there is strong support for promoting renewable sources such as solar power and wind power. At the national level, at least 30 nations around the world already have renewable energy contributing more than 20 percent of energy supply. National renewable energy markets are projected to continue to grow strongly in the coming decade and beyond.

While many renewable energy projects are large-scale, renewable technologies are also suited to rural and remote areas and developing countries, where energy is often crucial in human development. United Nations' Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has said that renewable energy has the ability to lift the poorest nations to new levels of prosperity.

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Krafla geothermal power plant in Iceland.

Geothermal power (from the Greek roots geo, meaning earth, and thermos, meaning heat) is power extracted from heat stored in the earth. This geothermal energy originates from the original formation of the planet, from radioactive decay of minerals, and from solar energy absorbed at the surface. It has been used for bathing since Paleolithic times and for space heating since ancient Roman times, but is now better known for generating electricity. Worldwide, about 10,715 megawatts (MW) of geothermal power is online in 24 countries. An additional 28 gigawatts of direct geothermal heating capacity is installed for district heating, space heating, spas, industrial processes, desalination and agricultural applications.

Geothermal power is cost effective, reliable, sustainable, and environmentally friendly, but has historically been limited to areas near tectonic plate boundaries. Recent technological advances have dramatically expanded the range and size of viable resources, especially for applications such as home heating, opening a potential for widespread exploitation. Geothermal wells release greenhouse gases trapped deep within the earth, but these emissions are much lower per energy unit than those of fossil fuels. As a result, geothermal power has the potential to help mitigate global warming if widely deployed in place of fossil fuels.

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Hans-Josef Fell1.JPG

Hans-Josef Fell (born 7 January 1952 in Hammelburg) is a member of the Green Party in the German Parliament. Fell framed the German Renewable Energy legislation, together with Hermann Scheer. He currently serves as spokesman on energy for the Alliance 90/The Greens parliamentary group.

Fell has travelled to many countries to discuss clean energy. Following his visit to Turkey, plans for a nuclear power plant at Akkuyu were stopped, and Prime Minister Bülent Ecevit declared that his government would foster renewable technologies. In Taiwan, following Fell's television appearances and talks with individual policy makers, the government announced the withdrawal of its plans to build the country's fourth nuclear power plant, and its intent to phase out nuclear power by 2020. The French government has also shown great interest in drafting a renewable energy law similar to the one in Germany.

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Did you know?

... that Selling Solar: The Diffusion of Renewable Energy in Emerging Markets, a 2009 Earthscan book by Damian Miller, argues that in order to solve the climate crisis, the world must immediately and dramatically accelerate the commercialization of renewable energy technology ? This needs to happen in the industrialized world, as well as in the emerging markets of the developing world where most future GHG emissions will occur.

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  • "Renewable energy provides 18 percent of total net electricity generation worldwide. Renewable energy generators are spread across the globe, and wind power alone already provides a significant share of electricity in some regions: for example, 14 percent in the U.S. state of Iowa, 40 percent in the northern German state of Schleswig-Holstein, and 20 percent in the nation of Denmark. Some countries get most of their power from renewables, including Iceland (100 percent), Brazil (85 percent), Austria (62 percent), New Zealand (65 percent), and Sweden (54 percent)."
  • "Solar hot water provides an important contribution to meeting hot water needs in many countries, most importantly in China, which now has fully 70 percent of the global total (180 GWth)... Worldwide, total installed solar water heating systems meet a portion of the water heating needs of over 70 million households. The use of biomass for heating continues to grow as well. Notable is Sweden, where national use of biomass energy has surpassed that of oil. Direct geothermal for heating is also growing rapidly."
  • "Renewable biofuels are meanwhile making inroads in the transportation fuels market and are beginning to have a measurable impact on demand for petroleum fuels, contributing to a decline in oil consumption in the United States in particular starting in 2006... The 93 billion liters of biofuels produced worldwide in 2009 displaced the equivalent of an estimated 68 billion liters of gasoline, equal to about 5 percent of world gasoline production."

Christopher Flavin in REN21 (2010). Renewables 2010 Global Status Report p. 53.

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