Renewable energy is generally defined as energy that comes from resources which are naturally replenished on a human timescale such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, waves and geothermal heat. Renewable energy replaces conventional fuels in four distinct areas: electricity generation, hot water/space heating, motor fuels, and rural (off-grid) energy services.
Based on REN21's 2014 report, renewables contributed 19 percent to our energy consumption and 22 percent to our electricity generation in 2012 and 2013, respectively. Both, modern renewables, such as hydro, wind, solar and biofuels, as well as traditional biomass, contributed in about equal parts to the global energy supply. Worldwide investments in renewable technologies amounted to more than US$ 214 billion in 2013, with countries like China and the United States heavily investing in wind, hydro, solar and biofuels.
Renewable energy resources exist over wide geographical areas, in contrast to other energy sources, which are concentrated in a limited number of countries. Rapid deployment of renewable energy and energy efficiency is resulting in significant energy security, climate change mitigation, and economic benefits. In international public opinion surveys there is strong support for promoting renewable sources such as solar power and wind power. At the national level, at least 30 nations around the world already have renewable energy contributing more than 20 percent of energy supply. National renewable energy markets are projected to continue to grow strongly in the coming decade and beyond.
While many renewable energy projects are large-scale, renewable technologies are also suited to rural and remote areas and developing countries, where energy is often crucial in human development. United Nations' Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has said that renewable energy has the ability to lift the poorest nations to new levels of prosperity.
Renewable energy commercialization involves the diffusion of three generations of renewable energy technologies dating back more than 100 years. First-generation technologies, which are already mature and economically competitive, include biomass, hydroelectricity, geothermal power and heat. Second-generation technologies are market-ready and are being deployed at the present time; they include solar heating, photovoltaics, wind power, solar thermal power stations, and modern forms of bioenergy. Third-generation technologies require continued R&D efforts in order to make large contributions on a global scale and include advanced biomass gasification, biorefinery technologies, hot-dry-rock geothermal power, and ocean energy.
There are some non-technical barriers to the widespread use of renewables, and it is often public policy and political leadership that drive the widespread acceptance of renewable energy technologies. Some 85 countries now have targets for their own renewable energy futures, and have enacted wide-ranging public policies to promote renewables. Climate change concerns are driving increasing growth in the renewable energy industries. Leading renewable energy companies include First Solar, Gamesa, GE Energy, Q-Cells, Sharp Solar, Siemens, SunOpta, Suntech, and Vestas.
Augustin Mouchot (April 7, 1825 – October 4, 1911) was a French inventor of the earliest solar-powered engine, converting solar energy into mechanical steam power.
Mouchot was born in Semur-en-Auxois, France on 7 April 1825. He first taught at the primary schools of Morvan (1845–49) and later Dijon, before attaining a degree in Mathematics in 1852 and a Bachelor of Physical Sciences in 1853. Subsequently, he taught mathematics in the secondary schools of Alençon (1853–62), Rennes and Lycée de Tours (1864–71). It was during this period that he undertook research into solar energy, which led eventually to his obtaining government funding for full-time research.
Template:/box-header WikiProjects connected with renewable energy:
- May 19, 2016: Final turbine of the 582MW German offshore Gode Wind Farm installed. (ReCharge)
- May 18, 2016: Renewable energy in Portugal supplies 100% of demand over four days in a row. (The Guardian)
- April 29, 2016: The Australian Capital Territory lifts its renewable energy target to 100% by 2020. (The Canberra Times)
- March 15, 2016: Bokpoort concentrated solar power inaugurated in South Africa. (ESI Africa)
- March 5, 2016: The 132MW Cadiz Solar Power Plant in the Philippines, the largest in Southeast Asia opens. (Deal Street Asia)
- February 5, 2016: Morocco completes the Noor 1 solar plant, the first stage of a 500MW project (The Japan Times)
- December 17, 2015: The 113MW Tafila Wind Farm in Jordan is inaugurated. (PR Newswire)
- December 2, 2015: The 300MW Cestas solar plant, the largest photovoltaic power station in Europe, is inaugurated near Bordeaux. (RenewEconomy)
- December 1, 2015: The 200MW Gulf of El-Zayt wind farm - the largest in Africa- is inaugurated in Egypt. (African Review)
- November 26, 2015: Mauritania's first wind farm inaugurated. (North Africa Post)
- "Perhaps the quickest, easiest, and most profitable way to reduce electricity use worldwide — thus cutting carbon emissions — is simply to change light bulbs. Replacing the inefficient incandescent light bulbs that are still widely used today with new compact fluorescents (CFLs) can reduce electricity use by three fourths. The energy saved by replacing a 100-watt incandescent bulb with an equivalent CFL over its lifetime is sufficient to drive a Toyota Prius hybrid car from New York to San Francisco."
- "Over its lifetime, each standard (13 watt) CFL will reduce electricity bills by roughly $30. And though a CFL may cost twice as much as an incandescent, it lasts 10 times as long. Since it uses less energy, it also means fewer CO2 emissions. Each one reduces energy use by the equivalent of 200 pounds of coal over its lifetime."
– Lester R. Brown. PLAN B 3.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization 2008, p. 215.