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?

BP boosts US renewables business with solar acquisition

1-06-2021
BP is to acquire 9 GW of solar development projects in the US from independent US solar developer 7X Energy, at a cost of some $220mn.  The deal represents a significant step towards BP’s target of growing its net developed renewable generating capacity to 20 GW by 2025, and 50 GW by 2030....

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Ørsted breaks ground on first renewable hydrogen project

17-05-2021
Ørsted has started onsite construction work at its first renewable hydrogen project – H2RES – in Copenhagen, with Dan Jørgensen, the Danish Minister for Climate, Energy & Utilities, leading the groundbreaking ceremony on 17 May.H2RES will have a capacity of 2 MW and will investigate how to best ...

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World added record renewable capacity last year

2-05-2021
Data from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has confirmed that the world added record amounts of new renewable capacity last year, despite the economic slowdown brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. In total, 260 GW of renewables were installed, exceeding 2019 levels by nearly...

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Could hydrogen unlock the optimum renewable energy mix?

1-05-2021
For hydrogen to play its part in the energy transition, investment and economies of scale are badly needed. Supportive policies are now key to unlocking its potential in the UK, writes Bill Ireland, CEO of Logan Energy.

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Renewable energy partnership with Leeds brewery

29-04-2021
Leeds-based renewable energy provider Planet-U Energy is installing solar PV and electric vehicle (EV) charging technology, as well as helping with renewable energy procurement, for the Springwell headquarters of North Brewing Co, also in Leeds.Located in a former tannery in the city, Springwell wil...

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Events and training

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

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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 to evaluate its performance through the publication of LTIF and TRIR benchmark metrics. This report provides a reference for offshore wind healt...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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