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?

IEA forecasts another record year for renewables growth worldwide

08/12/2021
Growth of world capacity to generate electricity from renewable technologies is to accelerate over coming years, with 2021 expected to set an all-time...

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Renewable energy jobs climb despite COVID-19

11/10/2021
The number of jobs in the renewable energy sector globally climbed to 12mn in 2020, up from 11.5mn in 2019, despite the impact of COVID-19, according ...

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Events and training

EI LIVE free webinar |3 critical ways maintenance improves wind turbine performance

18/02/2022
Discover 3 critical areas within asset management, maintenance and reliability that you can improve your equipment performance and reliability in the ...

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Level 1: Certificate in Energy Management Essentials

26/02/2022
This introductory 5 day classroom course provides a comprehensive, practical overview of the fundamentals of energy management, equipping partici...

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Energy Storage Fundamentals for Energy Security - March 2022

24/03/2022
This course is also available as a self-paced online course here. This 2-day classroom training course allows you to gain a comprehensive understan...

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Level 1: Certificate in Energy Management Essentials - April 2022

25/04/2022
About: This introductory 5 day classroom course provides a comprehensive, practical overview of the fundamentals of energy management, equipping ...

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Technical guidance publications

SafetyOn Good practice guidelines: Planned decommissioning framework for onshore wind turbines

2021
This publication is free to download for registered members of the site. Please log in to access.The final stage in the life cycle of a wind farm is d...

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Technical workshop proceedings: Hydrogen safety cases – Challenges in hydrogen safety case development in UK/European industrial clusters

2021
This document is free to download for registered users.The workshop reported herein was convened under the auspices of the EI Hy2004 Hydrogen Safety C...

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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 p...

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Checklist prior to the introduction of E10 Fuels into service station storage tanks

2021
In September 2021, the standard unleaded petrol grade in the UK will change to E10, in line with government mandate. E10 petrol contains up to 10% ren...

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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...

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