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?

Robotics to play vital role in renewables expansion

24-09-2021
Accelerating the development of robotics and autonomous systems (RAS) will be a significant enabler to reaching net zero, according to new research fr...

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Applying global H&S practices to the renewables industry

1-09-2021
A new survey from sustainability consultancy ERM has shone a light on how health and safety practice is evolving in industries around the world, parti...

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Offshore renewables first for Shell in Malaysia

30-08-2021
Shell has taken a final investment decision (FID) on the Timi gas project offshore Malaysia, which will feature the company’s first wellhead platform ...

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Global electricity demand expanding faster than renewables

27-08-2021
Renewables are expanding quickly – but not enough to satisfy a strong rebound in global electricity demand.Analysts at the International Energy Agency...

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ExxonMobil affiliate to produce renewable diesel to help reduce transport emissions in Canada

25-08-2021
ExxonMobil has announced that its majority-owned affiliate, Imperial Oil, is moving forward with plans to produce renewable diesel at a new complex at...

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Events and training

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 ...

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Energy Storage Fundamentals for Energy Security - October 2021

21-10-2021
This course is also available as a self-paced online course here. This 2-day virtual blended training course allows you to gain a comprehensive und...

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Level 1: Certificate in Energy Management Essentials - November 2021

8-11-2021
This introductory 5 day classroom course provides a comprehensive, practical overview of the fundamentals of energy management, equipping partici...

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Renewables: Health, Safety and Sustainability

17-11-2021
For more information, please visit https://www.energyinst.org/whats-on/search/renewables 

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Middle East HSE and Sustainability Week

22-11-2021
22 - 24 November 2021, virtual conference Resilience: Responding | Rebuilding | Reimagining Middle East HSE and Sustainability Week brings togeth...

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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 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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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...

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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...

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