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Share of renewables in the UK electricity generating capacity has overtaken fossil fuels for the first time as it reached 42 GW

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?

Indonesia moves to capitalise on renewable resources

Indonesia was the world’s fourth-largest emitter of greenhouse gases in 2015. Will a new, government-driven renewables programme be able to improve the country’s environmental profile as it strives to expand energy access? David Hayes takes a look at progress so far.

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Eni signs renewable energy collaboration agreement

Eni has signed a cooperation agreement with global wind and solar development company Mainstream Renewable Power to develop renewable power generation projects across Africa and Southeast Asia, with an initial focus on the UK.Luca Cosentino, Executive Vice President of Energy Solutions, Eni , says: ...

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New UK renewables schemes, mainly offshore wind, win record low support contracts

Twelve new renewable energy projects, nearly all offshore or sited on Scottish islands and together providing 6 GW of generating capacity, have won Contracts for Difference (CfDs) under the government’s renewables support scheme. For the first time, these projects are expected to come online below m...

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Australia set to achieve renewables target one year ahead of schedule

Australia will officially meet the obligations of its Large-scale Renewable Energy Target (LRET) one year ahead of schedule, Australia’s Clean Energy Council has announced.The target, introduced in 2001, was for Australia to generate 33,000 GWh of power from large-scale renewable energy by 2020. The...

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Artificial intelligence enters offshore renewables

Minimising operation and maintenance costs is essential for the performance of marine energy schemes. This article, from the government’s Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult, describes how the research emphasis has shifted to robotics and artificial intelligence as ways to cut operational costs and i...

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Events and training

Level 1 Certificate in Energy Management -November 2019

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 legislation and...

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Oil and gas industry fundamentals - Intensive - November 2019

This intensive 3-day course is a leading course presented by an industry expert and practitioner. Delegates will cover the key sectors of the oil and gas industry from exploration through to fuel retailing. 

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Energy Policy Debate: UK pathways to decarbonising heat

In order to meet the UK’s net zero emissions target by 2050, every sector of the economy must be decarbonised. We have made strong progress in decarbonising power generation, thanks to improvements in efficiency, switching from coal to natural gas, and an increase in the share of renewabl...

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Middle East Sustainability Forum

This is part of Middle East HSE and Sustainability Week – for the HSE Forum please click here.

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Level 1: Certificate in Energy Management Essentials - March 2020

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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Technical guidance publications

Battery storage guidance note 1: Battery storage planning

This publication is free to download. Please log in to see the download option.Battery storage is expected to play an important role in the energy transition, allowing the storage of electrical energy from renewables for later use, and helping to balance grid load. This publication provides guidance...

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Research report: Issues associated with aging combined cycle gas turbines (CCGT) assets

This research report was commissioned to explore the risks that aging CCGT plant components impose on people, environment and the wider plant.Based on this research, the report identifies:example failures to plant that can arise through the wear and tear of aging;the expected severity of such as fai...

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German translation - Good practice guideline - The safe management of small service vessels used in the offshore wind industry

This is the second edition of the German translation of the publication Good practice guideline - The safe management of small service vessels used in the offshore wind industry. The English version of this title has been updated to a second edition in 2018 and can be downloaded for free h...

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G+ 2018 incident data report

Free to download. For more information on the G+ visit www.gplusoffshorewind.comThe G+ is committed to providing the industry with information that will improve health and safety performance. Since the formation of the G+, members have been providing HSE information and statistics for analysis and i...

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G+/DROPS Reliable securing booklet for offshore wind

Free to download. For more information on the G+ visit www.gplusoffshorewind.comThis document is an adaptation of selected DROPS Reliable securing, Best practice recommendations for the securing of structure and equipment at the worksite content to provide guidance and functional recommend...

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