Renewables now make up 26% of global electricity generation, second after coal

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?

Government cuts its estimates of costs of renewable electricity

17-09-2020
The UK government has officially recognised recent and dramatic falls in the cost of generating electricity from renewable sources – particularly wind and solar – in updated estimates of the ‘levelised cost of electricity’ (LCOE). Published by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Stra...

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Evaluation of pure rapeseed oil as a renewable fuel for agricultural machinery based on emission characteristics and long‑term operation behaviour of a fleet of 18 tractors - Research Article

3-09-2020
The usage of locally produced pure rapeseed oil fuel (R100) according to fuel standard DIN 51605 in agricultural machinerycan contribute to protecting the climate, water, and soil. Besides economic aspects, uncertainties concerning the long-termoperation reliability and limited exhaust emissions of ...

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Renewables paving the path to net zero

1-09-2020
Daniel de Wijze takes a look at an energy industry moving towards net zero, through the lens of the views of Energy Institute members.

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Renewables sector feeds specialist lubricants business

1-09-2020
Modern wind and tidal energy turbines, and hydropower plants, require specially-manufactured lubricants, which sometimes need to be supplied and replaced in exacting site conditions – such as offshore – writes Jens Kastner.

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China, US dominate world renewables output

28-08-2020
According to the International Energy Agency’s Key World Energy Statistics report, just released China continues to be the world’s largest producer of renewable power from wind as well as solar photovoltaics 

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Events and training

EI LIVE free webinar | Energy Transition : What will the regional energy mix look like in 2050?

4-11-2020
Since 2000, overall energy demand has grown in Asia by more than 80% and the lion’s share of this growth has been met by a doubling in fossil fuel use.

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EL LIVE Free Webinar | Renewables: Health, Safety and Sustainability

5-11-2020
A free webinar, held ahead of the 2021 conference, to discuss building renewables in a safe and sustainable way.5 November 2020: 14:00 - 15:15 GMTEI Knowledge Partner:Webinar sponsor:

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EI LIVE free webinar | Changing energy demands – implications for infrastructure and storage

25-11-2020
Sponsored by:Please note that registration closes at 17:00 on 24 November 202025 November 2020, 11:00 - 12:30 GMT

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Oil and Gas Industry Fundamentals - Intensive - December 2020

2-12-2020
This intensive 3-day course is a leading course presented by an industry expert and practitioner. Delegates will cover the key sectors of the oil and gas industry from exploration through to fuel retailing. 

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EI LIVE free webinar | COVID-19: What does this mean for the fight against the climate crisis?

9-12-2020
Host Partner: The Sustainability Forum is endorsed by: Free online launch event for the Middle East Sustainability Forum 2021 9 December 2020, 09:00 GMT |12:00 Bahrain, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia | 13:00 UAE and Oman Platform: WebexPlease note that registration closes at 17:00 on 8 Decembe...

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Technical guidance publications

Traditional Mandarin translation - G+ Integrated Offshore Emergency Response (G+ IOER) Good practice guidelines for offshore renewable energy developments

2020
This publication is available to download for free.此出版物可免費下載。This is the traditional Mandarin translation of the publication G+ Integrated Offshore Emergency Response (G+ IOER) Good practice guidelines for offshore renewable energy developments. The English version of this title can be dow...

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SafetyOn Onshore Emergency Response. Good practice guidelines for onshore wind energy developments

2020
This publication is available to download for free.This document aims to provide a process that, if followed, should allow the Duty Holder to develop site-specific plans and procedures to mitigate the consequence of incidents and help protect casualties until they can be delivered to an ultimate pla...

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Battery storage guidance note 3: Design, construction and maintenance

2020
This publication is free to download. Please log in to see the download option.This publication captures learning and experience from battery storage construction projects, with special emphasis on ensuring the safety of such projects to people and environment.Based on industry interviews and availa...

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Good practice guideline - Offshore wind farm transfer

2020
This guidance provides a framework of how to execute a safe transfer in an offshore wind farm in order to provide consistency and good practice regarding transfer across the wind industry and to allow operators and vessel owners to produce or to verify their transfer procedure up against a set of in...

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G+ Safe by design Workshop report update: WTG service lifts – follow-up on workshop conclusions

2020
This publication is available to download for free for registered users.A Safe by Design workshop on wind turbine generator (WTG) service lifts was held on 22 September 2016 in London. From this workshop a report was published, with recommendations (G+ Safe by Design workshop report: WTG service lif...

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