Renewable energy

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Renewables now make up almost 29% of global electricity generation

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. The EU has a target for 32% of all electricity to be generated from renewables by 2030. To meet these 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:

Learn more about renewables by reading our Energy Insights.

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

View our dedicated Collections on Hydrogen and Offshore Wind.

What's new?

What could become the world’s largest renewable energy park begins generating power

21/02/2024

When complete, the Khavda renewable energy park – said to be the largest renewable energy installation in the world – will generate 30 GW of energy fo...

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Dark cloud over Indonesia’s pledge to achieve net zero emissions by 2060 – says IEEFA think tank

21/02/2024

The lowering of Indonesia’s renewable energy ambitions is at odds with the direction of travel of much of the rest of the world and the landmark agree...

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Special pylon tour wows girl, 4, but others remain less enthusiastic

21/02/2024

The visit by four-year-old Lucy, from Blackpool, recently went viral on TikTok when her mother Sophie posted a video capturing her daughter’s special ...

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Global LNG demand is set to grow significantly beyond 2040, driven by Far East markets; plus African project news

21/02/2024

Shell’s LNG Outlook 2024 report notes that global trade in LNG reached 404mn tonnes in 2023, up from 397mn tonnes in 2022, with tight supplies of LNG ...

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Underwater kites deliver wave power to Faroe Islands

21/02/2024

The 1.2 MW utility-scale power plant features a 12-metre, 28-tonne subsea kite anchored to the seabed that generates electricity by converting kinetic...

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Events and training

Energy Institute Northern Ireland Annual Dinner

14/03/2024

The Energy Institute Northern Ireland Annual Black Tie Dinner will take place on Thursday 14 March 2024.

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Maintenance Strategy Fundamentals - March 2024

18/03/2024 - 19/03/2024

In this 2 half-day training course, you will gain the fundamental knowledge and understanding to develop an efficient and effective maintenance plan t...

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Technical Webinar: Green hydrogen

25/03/2024

Technical Webinar: Green hydrogenThe energy transition continues to drive global momentum behind limiting climate change. International efforts are un...

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UK Energy Policy Debate: Battle for Energy Ideas

18/04/2024

This April sees the return of the Energy Institute’s Energy Policy Debates, exploring the ‘Battle of the Energy Ideas’, where distin...

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Level 1: Certificate in Energy Management Essentials - April 2024

22/04/2024 - 26/04/2024

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

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Technical guidance publications

Human factors standards for facility design: Early design quick reference guide

2024

Human factors considerations (ergonomics, anthropometry, etc.) are key to good facility design; however, too often human factors is not considered ear...

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

2023

This publication is available to download for free.This document has been produced to share good practice within the offshore renewable energy industr...

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Guidance on large-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) system design, development and operation

2023

Solar photovoltaic (PV), which converts sunlight into electricity, is an important source of renewable energy in the 21st century. PV plant installati...

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Research report: Assessing environmental impacts of energy storage technologies for grid scale applications

2023

This report is free to download for subscribers.  Register or log in to download.Energy storage is a key element for effectively harnessing ...

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Waste to products – Technology and economic assessment (phase 1)

2022

This document is free to download for registered users.The EMG and Soil Wastes and Groundwater group (SWG) of the EI and Concawe have commissioned E4t...

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Offshore wind collection

The EI’s Offshore Wind Collection was developed in collaboration with The Crown Estate. Through this collaboration, we are able to provide over 100 guidance documents developed by the Crown Estate and its partners.