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Share of renewables in the UK electricity generating capacity has overtaken fossil fuels for the first time as it reached 42 GW

Renewable energy is derived from resources that are replenished on a human timescale; examples include sunlight, wind, rains, waves, tides, geothermal heat and biomass. Renewable energy is used in three main areas: electricity generation, air and water heating and cooling, and transportation. Renewables are also suited to provide off-grid energy solutions in rural and remote areas. The overall production and use of renewable energy usually produce minimal greenhouse gases and have the potential to significantly reduce air pollution compared to hydrocarbon alternatives. Deployment of renewable energy also has potential energy security benefits, with renewable resources spread over wide geographical areas.

In light of the current greenhouse gas-driven warming of the climate and the associated impacts, a global transition to low carbon energy is underway with renewable energy at the forefront. Related technologies are rapidly becoming more efficient and falling in costs; some renewable energy forms like solar PV and onshore wind that once depended heavily on government support are now at or approaching cost-parity with fossil fuel generation. Since most renewables produce electricity, increasing the share of renewable energy in the whole energy system can be achieved by electrifying the heat and transport sectors, in combination with increasing the proportion of electricity provided by renewables. Besides electrification, the transport sector can benefit from biofuels which can substitute for oil products. The heat sector can see further deployment of solar water heating, biomass-fuelled burners and direct geothermal heating. Renewable energy is expected to continue expanding its share in the energy mix, as costs come down, innovative technologies are commercialised, and environmental drivers strengthen. In the short term, the EU has a target for 20% of all electricity to be generated from renewables by 2020. However, to meet long-term climate and sustainability goals, renewable energy deployment must accelerate in all sectors, enabled by policy and markets.

You can find further information below about the technologies, costs and current developments within each of the seven major types of renewables:

For the latest news and articles on renewable energy read Energy World.

Learn more about renewables by reading our Energy Insights.

View upcoming consultations and policies on renewables on our Policy Milestones Calendar.

What's new?

Indonesia moves to capitalise on renewable resources

1-10-2019
Indonesia was the world’s fourth-largest emitter of greenhouse gases in 2015. Will a new, government-driven renewables programme be able to improve the country’s environmental profile as it strives to expand energy access? David Hayes takes a look at progress so far.

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Australia set to achieve renewables target one year ahead of schedule

6-09-2019
Australia will officially meet the obligations of its Large-scale Renewable Energy Target (LRET) one year ahead of schedule, Australia’s Clean Energy Council has announced.The target, introduced in 2001, was for Australia to generate 33,000 GWh of power from large-scale renewable energy by 2020. The...

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Artificial intelligence enters offshore renewables

1-09-2019
Minimising operation and maintenance costs is essential for the performance of marine energy schemes. This article, from the government’s Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult, describes how the research emphasis has shifted to robotics and artificial intelligence as ways to cut operational costs and i...

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Two new renewable projects for Amazon

18-08-2019
Amazon has announced it will build two new wind farms – one in Cork, Ireland, and one in Pittsylvania County, Virginia – to provide renewable power to its Amazon Web Services data centres.The wind farms – which have expected generation capacities of 23 MW and 45 MW respectively – are set to come onl...

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Renewable electricity rose to a third of the UK total in 2018: new ministers

1-08-2019
The proportion of UK electricity from renewable sources continued to rise during 2018, reaching a record 33% of the total – up by 4% from the 2017 figure – as the amount of renewable generating capacity increased to reach 44 GW. This is perhaps the most dramatic change in UK energy patterns over the...

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Events and training

IEA's World Energy Investment Report 2019

19-09-2019
The International Energy Agency’s annual benchmark for tracking energy investment, World Energy Investment 2019 provides a full picture of today’s capital flows and what they might mean for tomorrow’s energy sector It assesses whether the frameworks and strategi...

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L1: Certificate in Energy Management Essentials - September 2019

23-09-2019
About: This introductory 5 day classroom course provides a comprehensive, practical overview of the fundamentals of energy management, equipping participants with all the essential knowledge and skills they need to save energy, reduce operational costs and carbon emissions, comply with legislat...

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L3: Advanced Energy Manager

30-09-2019
This 10-day course is an advanced qualification aiming to support experienced energy managers to further advance their careers by gaining the skills and knowledge required to function successfully at a senior level and be able to manage energy across a wide range of business areas, activities and pa...

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Boiler User Group 2019: Energy from Waste, Biomass and Fossil Fuels

9-10-2019
Event held by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. Fired boilers continue to play an important and significant role in the UK's generating fleet, alongside newer CCGT and renewable sources. While some older coal fired plants have been decommissioned, others continue to contribute to production c...

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L1: Certificate in Energy Management Essentials - Middle East - October 2019

13-10-2019
About: This introductory 5 day classroom course provides a comprehensive, practical overview of the fundamentals of energy management, equipping participants with all the essential knowledge and skills they need to save energy, reduce operational costs and carbon emissions, comply with legislat...

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Technical guidance publications

Battery storage guidance note 1: Battery storage planning

2019
Battery storage is expected to play an important role in the energy transition, allowing the storage of electrical energy from renewables for later use, and helping to balance grid load. This publication provides guidance covering various aspects of planning a battery storage facility. It provides a...

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G+ 2018 incident data report

2019
Free to download. For more information on the G+ visit www.gplusoffshorewind.comThe G+ is committed to providing the industry with information that will improve health and safety performance. Since the formation of the G+, members have been providing HSE information and statistics for analysis and i...

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G+/DROPS Reliable securing booklet for offshore wind

2019
Free to download. For more information on the G+ visit www.gplusoffshorewind.comThis document is an adaptation of selected DROPS Reliable securing, Best practice recommendations for the securing of structure and equipment at the worksite content to provide guidance and functional recommend...

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German translation - Good practice guideline - The safe management of small service vessels used in the offshore wind industry

2019
This is the second edition of the German translation of the publication Good practice guideline - The safe management of small service vessels used in the offshore wind industry. The English version of this title has been updated to a second edition in 2018 and can be downloaded for free h...

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Guidance on the development and decommissioning of new combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) plant

2019
This publication provides good practice for the safe commissioning of 'new build' CCGT plant projects. New build is plant that is being planned or has recently been constructed and being made ready (during the commissioning phase) for operation to an agreed specification and contract. It is intended...

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