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?

Most new renewables undercut cheapest fossil fuels on cost

1-07-2021
Some 62% of all renewable power generation added last year was lower cost than the cheapest new fossil fuel options available, according to analysis by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). This means that the share of renewable energy that achieved lower costs than the most competitive...

Read more »

The benefits of cross-border renewable energy trading in South Asia

1-07-2021
Large-scale, cross-border ‘green grids’ have the potential to meet growing energy demand and improve energy access and energy security across South Asia. Simon Trace looks at the particular advantages and challenges of linking resources between India, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal.

Read more »

Togo opens renewable energy plant

28-06-2021
The government of Togo has inaugurated one of the largest solar projects in West Africa and the first renewable energy facility in the country. The 50 MW Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed solar power plant will provide electricity to nearly 160,000 homes and small businesses, reducing the country’s dependen...

Read more »

New raft of renewables investments for Amazon

23-06-2021
With the announcement of 14 new renewable energy projects across Europe and North America, Amazon says it has become the largest corporate buyer of renewable energy in both the US and the world. In late June, the firm committed to purchasing 1.5 GW of production capacity from utility-scale wind and ...

Read more »

India’s largest oil refiner bets big on renewables

12-06-2021
Reliance Industries, the largest publicly traded company in India by market capitalisation, has announced that it will invest $10bn in clean energy over the next three years. The firm plans to build four ‘gigafactories’ to mass produce batteries, hydrogen fuel cells, solar panels and hydrogen electr...

Read more »

Events and training

EI LIVE free webinar | Producing mental energy

9-09-2021
Producing Mental Energy - how the energy industry can focus on its most energetic resource - its people09:00 BST |12:00 Bahrain, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia | 13:00 UAE and Oman

Read more »

EI LIVE | Energy Efficiency

22-09-2021
Discover the latest approaches and strategies in energy efficiency that can help the UK reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.Registration closes at 17:00 BST on 21 September 2021

Read more »

Level 3: Advanced Energy Manager

27-09-2021
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...

Read more »

Level 1: Certificate in Energy Management Essentials - October 2021

4-10-2021
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...

Read more »

Energy Sustainability Conference 2021

20-10-2021
The Energy Institute Nigeria has put together this conference to lend its voice among other energy players in Nigeria and the African Energy space to chart a pathway for a sustainable energy future. We believe the subject of Energy Sustainability is one that concerns every citizen of the world today...

Read more »

Technical guidance publications

Managing the replant of a combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) power plant

2021
This publication provides guidance on establishing good practice for the safe and structured approach to the management of a replant of a CCGT power plant, from conception, project development and execution, to handover back to the operation and maintenance (O&M)team.Its intended audience is the...

Read more »

G+ 2020 incident data report

2021
The data collected in 2020 has been analysed and presented in this report, which builds on the 2019 Data report, allowing the industry as a whole to evaluate its performance through the publication of LTIF and TRIR benchmark metrics. This report provides a reference for offshore wind healt...

Read more »

Good practice guidelines for safe helicopter operations in support of the global offshore wind industry (Section B)

2021
These guidelines is support continuous improvement in managing health and safety risks to and from helicopter operations, enabling safe development of the global offshore wind industry. They aim to help the industry integrate helicopter operations safely into projects, taking an approach appropriate...

Read more »

Good practice guidelines for safe helicopter operations in support of the global offshore wind industry (Section A)

2021
These guidelines is support continuous improvement in managing health and safety risks to and from helicopter operations, enabling safe development of the global offshore wind industry. They aim to help the industry integrate helicopter operations safely into projects, taking an approach appropriate...

Read more »

HM 63. Independent inspection company auditing – Pre-audit information

2021
The publication provides notes on auditing procedures and contains three key checklists:Information to be provided by the auditor (for use in advance of a physical audit)Information to be provided by the auditee (for use in advance of a physical audit and as the first part of a self assessment)Addit...

Read more »

Visit our publishing site »

You may also be interested in