Renewable energy is useful energy that is collected from renewable resources, which are naturally replenished on a human timescale, including carbon neutral sources like sunlight, wind, rain, tides, waves, and geothermal heat. The term often also encompasses biomass as well, whose carbon neutral status is under debate.
This type of energy source stands in contrast to fossil fuels, which are being used far more quickly than they are being replenished.
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 were an estimated 10.5 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. As of 2019, more than two-thirds of worldwide newly installed electricity capacity 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 their energy supply. National renewable energy markets are projected to continue to grow strongly in the coming decade and beyond.
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, 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. (Full article...)
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Whether nuclear power should be considered a form of renewable energy is an ongoing subject of debate. Statutory definitions of renewable energy usually exclude many present nuclear energy technologies, with the notable exception of the state of Utah. Dictionary-sourced definitions of renewable energy technologies often omit or explicitly exclude mention of nuclear energy sources, with an exception made for the natural nuclear decay heat generated within the Earth.
The most common fuel used in conventional nuclear fission power stations, uranium-235 is "non-renewable" according to the Energy Information Administration, the organization however is silent on the recycled MOX fuel. Similarly, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory does not mention nuclear power in its "energy basics" definition.
In 1987, the Brundtland Commission
(WCED) classified fission reactors that produce more fissile nuclear fuel
than they consume (breeder reactors
, and if developed, fusion power
) among conventional renewable energy sources, such as solar power
. The American Petroleum Institute
does not consider conventional nuclear fission renewable, but considers breeder reactor
nuclear fuel renewable and sustainable, and while conventional fission leads to waste streams that remain a concern for millennia, the waste from efficiently recycled spent fuel
requires a more limited storage supervision period of about thousand years. The monitoring and storage of radioactive
waste products is also required upon the use of other renewable energy sources, such as geothermal energy. (Full article...
- "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.
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(born 7 January 1952 in Hammelburg
, German) was a member of the German Parliamentary Group Alliance 90/ the Greens
from 1998 to 2013. He served as spokesman on energy for the Alliance 90/The Greens parliamentary group, a member of the Environmental Protection Committee, substitute member of the Committee on Economics and Technology and substitute member of the Defence Committee. Together with Hermann Scheer
, he authored the 2000 draft of the Renewable Energy Sources Act
, establishing the foundation for the technology developments in photovoltaic, biogas, wind power and geothermal energy in Germany. Fell is founder and president of the Energy Watch Group
and an internationally renowned energy and climate change advisor, author and speaker. (Full article...
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