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?

Ørsted takes FID on first renewable hydrogen project

20-01-2021
Ørsted has taken its final investment decision (FID) on the Danish demonstration project H2RES, which will use offshore wind energy to produce renewable hydrogen. The project is expected to produce its first hydrogen in late 2021 and will be Ørsted's first renewable hydrogen project.The H2RES projec...

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Electrification and accelerating renewables could ‘put China on net zero path'

3-01-2021
Energy research firm BloombergNEF (BNEF) has released a new study detailing how China can take steps towards meeting its recent carbon neutrality pledge. According to the report, electrifying final energy use in sectors such as industry and road transport, coupled with accelerated deployment of rene...

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Reusing EV batteries to aid renewable energy systems

1-01-2021
Batteries that have come to the end of their useful life in electric vehicles often have plenty of life left in them. They can be reused within decentralised energy systems based on renewables, report Poorna Rodrigo and Keith Nuthall.

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Siemens aims to ‘unlock’ renewables in Afghanistan

15-12-2020
Siemens Energy has signed a multi-phase agreement with the government of Afghanistan to establish the country as an ‘energy hub’ in central Asia. The German industrial conglomerate hopes to develop a modern, sustainable, and cost-effective power system in the country, incorporating significant renew...

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Underwater cable to deliver renewable power from Scotland to England

10-12-2020
Three companies – SSE, ScottishPower and National Grid – are developing plans to deliver an underwater electric ‘super-highway’ that will see the North Sea become the hidden powerhouse of Europe. The Eastern Link will be made up of some of the world’s longest subsea HVDC cables with a combined capac...

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Events and training

LEVEL 1 CERTIFICATE IN ENERGY MANAGEMENT ESSENTIALS |March 2021

17-03-2021
This introductory 5 day Hybrid 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 meet th...

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EI LIVE Free Webinar | Hydrogen: hype or hope?

21-04-2021
Could hydrogen mark the beginning of a new era for clean energy in UK and Europe?Please note that registration closes at 17:00 BST on 20 April 2021EI Knowledge Partner:Sponsor:

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EI LIVE | Level 1: Certificate in Energy Management Essentials - April 2021

26-04-2021
About: This introductory 5 day virtual blended 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 legisla...

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EI LIVE | Energy Storage Fundamentals for Energy Security - May 2021

6-05-2021
<p> This 2-day virtual blended training course will allow you to gain a comprehensive understanding of energy security awareness and learn how to achieve energy security at national and power generator levels. It provides knowledge of energy storage systems as we transition to low carbon ...

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Technical guidance publications

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

2020
This publication is available to download for free.此出版物可免費下載。This is the traditional Mandarin translation of the publication G+ Integrated Offshore Emergency Response (G+ IOER) Good practice guidelines for offshore renewable energy developments. The English version of this title can be dow...

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SafetyOn Onshore Emergency Response. Good practice guidelines for onshore wind energy developments

2020
This publication is available to download for free.This document aims to provide a process that, if followed, should allow the Duty Holder to develop site-specific plans and procedures to mitigate the consequence of incidents and help protect casualties until they can be delivered to an ultimate pla...

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Battery storage guidance note 3: Design, construction and maintenance

2020
This publication is free to download. Please log in to see the download option.This publication captures learning and experience from battery storage construction projects, with special emphasis on ensuring the safety of such projects to people and environment.Based on industry interviews and availa...

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Good practice guideline - Offshore wind farm transfer

2020
This guidance provides a framework of how to execute a safe transfer in an offshore wind farm in order to provide consistency and good practice regarding transfer across the wind industry and to allow operators and vessel owners to produce or to verify their transfer procedure up against a set of in...

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G+ Safe by design Workshop report update: WTG service lifts – follow-up on workshop conclusions

2020
This publication is available to download for free for registered users.A Safe by Design workshop on wind turbine generator (WTG) service lifts was held on 22 September 2016 in London. From this workshop a report was published, with recommendations (G+ Safe by Design workshop report: WTG service lif...

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