Renewable energy is energy that is collected from renewable resources, which are naturally replenished on a human timescale, such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, waves, and geothermal heat. Renewable energy often provides energy in four important areas: electricity generation, air and water heating/cooling, transportation, and rural (off-grid) energy services.
Based on REN21's 2017 report, renewables contributed 19.3% to humans' global energy consumption and 24.5% to their generation of electricity in 2015 and 2016, respectively. This energy consumption is divided as 8.9% coming from traditional biomass, 4.2% as heat energy (modern biomass, geothermal and solar heat), 3.9% from hydroelectricity and the remaining 2.2% is electricity from wind, solar, geothermal, and other forms of biomass. Worldwide investments in renewable technologies amounted to more than US$286 billion in 2015. In 2017, worldwide investments in renewable energy amounted to US$279.8 billion, with China accounting for US$126.6 billion or 45% of the global investments, the United States for US$40.5 billion, and Europe for US$40.9 billion. Globally, there are an estimated 7.7 million jobs associated with the renewable energy industries, with solar photovoltaics being the largest renewable employer. Renewable energy systems are rapidly becoming more efficient and cheaper and their share of total energy consumption is increasing. worldwide, more than two-thirds of all new electricity capacity installed was renewable. Growth in consumption of coal and oil could end by 2020 due to increased uptake of renewables and natural gas.
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.
Some places and at least two countries, Iceland and Norway, generate all their electricity using renewable energy already, and many other countries have the set a goal to reach 100% renewable energy in the future.
At least 47 nations around the world already have over 50 percent of electricity from renewable resources. Renewable energy resources exist over wide geographical areas, in contrast to fossil fuels, which are concentrated in a limited number of countries. Rapid deployment of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies 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.
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. As most of renewable energy technologies provide electricity, renewable energy deployment is often applied in conjunction with further electrification, which has several benefits: electricity can be converted to heat (where necessary generating higher temperatures than fossil fuels), can be converted into mechanical energy with high efficiency, and is clean at the point of consumption. In addition, electrification with renewable energy is more efficient and therefore leads to significant reductions in primary energy requirements.
Domestically produced renewable energy in Iceland represents 85% of total primary energy supply. In 2011, geothermal energy provided about 65% of primary energy, the share of hydro power was 20%, and fossil fuels (mainly oil) 15%. The main use of geothermal energy is for space heating with the heat being distributed to buildings through extensive district-heating systems.
Renewable energy provides 100% of electricity production, with about 75% coming from hydropower and 25 percent from geothermal power. Most of the hydropower plants are owned by Landsvirkjun (the National Power Company) which is the main supplier of electricity in Iceland.
Stefan Krauter is Professor and Entrepreneur in the area of Renewable Energies. His activities in research, teaching and business are directed to establish a global sustainable energy supply. He specialized in the direct conversion of sunlight into electricity - photovoltaics.
He initiated and organized in Rio de Janeiro several congresses (RIO 02/3/5/6/9 - World Climate & Energy Events) and the Latin America Renewable Energy Fair (LAREF), to sustain the vision of the UNCED Earth Summit of Rio 1992 in that area.
Did you know?
... that the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) to promote widespread and increased adoption and sustainable use of all forms or renewable energy was founded in 2009 ? Acting as the global voice for renewable energies, IRENA will facilitate access to all relevant renewable energy information.
IRENA's founding reflects a growing consensus among governments around the world on the need to speed up the commercialization of renewable energy worldwide. IRENA provides advice and support to governments on renewable energy policy, capacity building, and technology transfer. IRENA will also co-ordinate with existing renewable energy organizations, such as REN21.
- May 19, 2016: Final turbine of the 582MW German offshore Gode Wind Farm installed. (ReCharge)
- May 18, 2016: Renewable energy in Portugal supplies 100% of demand over four days in a row. (The Guardian)
- April 29, 2016: The Australian Capital Territory lifts its renewable energy target to 100% by 2020. (The Canberra Times)
- March 15, 2016: Bokpoort concentrated solar power inaugurated in South Africa. (ESI Africa)
- March 5, 2016: The 132MW Cadiz Solar Power Plant in the Philippines, the largest in Southeast Asia opens. (Deal Street Asia)
- February 5, 2016: Morocco completes the Noor 1 solar plant, the first stage of a 500MW project (The Japan Times)
- December 17, 2015: The 113MW Tafila Wind Farm in Jordan is inaugurated. (PR Newswire)
- December 2, 2015: The 300MW Cestas solar plant, the largest photovoltaic power station in Europe, is inaugurated near Bordeaux. (RenewEconomy)
- December 1, 2015: The 200MW Gulf of El-Zayt wind farm - the largest in Africa- is inaugurated in Egypt. (African Review)
- November 26, 2015: Mauritania's first wind farm inaugurated. (North Africa Post)
- "Perhaps because of its technical, economic, and thermodynamic advantages, a renewable power sector would have six benefits over one reliant on conventional power plants, including (1) lower negative externalities per kWh, (2) more stable and predictable fuel prices, (3) fewer greenhouse gas emissions, (4) less water use, (5) improved efficiency, and (6) greater local employment and revenue." – Benjamin K. Sovacool and Charmaine Watts. The Electricity Journal, May 2009, Vol. 22, Issue 4, p. 99.
- "... renewable electricity technologies present policy makers with a superior alternative for minimising the risk of fuel interruptions and shortages, helping improve the fragile transmission network and reducing environmental harm. These smaller and more environmentally friendly generators cost less to construct, produce power in smaller increments and need not rely on continuous government subsidies. They generate little to no waste, have less greenhouse gas emissions per unit of electricity produced and do not contribute significantly to the risk of accidents." – Benjamin K. Sovacool, Journal of Contemporary Asia, 40(3), 2010, p. 371.