Renewable Energy Introduction

The estimated capacity of electricity generation from renewable sources was 240 gigawatts (GW) in 2007 representing 5% of global power capacity. This figure does not include hydropower.

Wind power was the highest source of renewable energy in 2007, reaching 95GW, an increase from 2006 of 28%.

Grid-connected photovoltaic solar energy was the fastest growing type of renewable energy with a 50% increase from 2006, bringing the capacity up to 7.7GW.

As we can see, this portion of the total electricity production is tiny, yet it is a sector that is growing at an increasingly rapid rate. And so it will have to for the good of the environment according to many scientists.

National targets are being set to increase the share of electricity generation from renewable sources by the year 2020. For example, in Australia the Mandatory Renewable Energy Target (MRET) is a 20% share of renewable energy by 2020. Many renewable energy projects have been proposed and commenced to realise this goal.

Renewable Energy Development tracks this growth, detailing new and proposed projects that have been undertaken around the world. These new developments can be found listed on the pages of the respective renewable energy sources.

Details of renewable energy projects can be found on the pages listed below.

1. Solar Energy
2. Wind Power
3. Tidal Energy
4. Geothermal Energy
5. Biomass
6. Wave Power

What Is Renewable Energy?

Renewable energy is any source of energy that can be used without depleting its reserves. These sources include sun, wind, biomass and hydro energy. Each of these energy sources can be harnassed to varying degrees and at varying costs. For the purpose of this article, nuclear energy will be regarded as a non-renewable energy source because, although uranium is not a fossil fuel, it is a finite resource and its reserves are depleted through use.

It’s important to remember that all energy production has an effect on our environment to some extent so where possible I’ll also run some comparisons on the emissions generated by each renewable energy source.

The Current Worldwide State of Play

According to the REN21 Renewables Global Status Report 2007, renewable energy has evolved rapidly from an ‘alternative’ energy source to a mainstream energy option. Compared with a total global power capacity of 4,300 GW, renewable energy (without hydro) now provides around 240 GW of clean power, avoiding some 5 gigatonnes of carbon emissions per year.

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