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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?

Renewable electricity rose to a third of the UK total in 2018: new ministers

The proportion of UK electricity from renewable sources continued to rise during 2018, reaching a record 33% of the total – up by 4% from the 2017 figure – as the amount of renewable generating capacity increased to reach 44 GW. This is perhaps the most dramatic change in UK energy patterns over the...

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Australia ‘set to achieve over 50% renewable energy’ by 2030

Australia is on track to generate 52% of electricity in its National Electricity Market (NEM) from renewable sources by 2030, even if there are no changes in federal policy, according to a new report by energy analysis firm Reputex.The uptake in renewables is primarily driven by state energy targets...

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N Cranenburgh, Better storage might give hydrogen the edge as renewable car fuel, Energy, 29 May 2019

In UK, a breakthrough has occurred with hydrogen storage by means of a low-cost molecular sieve. In view of the low density, and thus energy density, of hydrogen, vehicle fuel tanks must be designed for large volumes, and arranged to contain the fuel either as pressurised gas, or as cryogenic liquid...

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‘Collapse’ in new German onshore wind threatens renewables targets

The growth of onshore wind energy is collapsing in Germany, according to trade association WindEurope, jeopardising both German and EU renewables targets in the process.Just 134 MW of new onshore wind was installed in Germany in the first quarter of this year – making it the country’s worst quarter ...

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New projects pair multiple renewables with storage

Large-scale battery storage is perhaps the most important enabling technology for the next phase of the energy transition – and utilities are taking note. Now, the first projects that pair two or more renewable technologies with storage are coming online, reports Andrew Williams.

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Events and training

University of Sheffield MSc Energy & Environmental Engineering (EEE) poster competition

The key aims of this competition are to address the skills in energy and environmental engineering and to inspire the next generation of world-class engineers. 

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IEA's World Energy Investment Report 2019

The International Energy Agency’s annual benchmark for tracking energy investment, World Energy Investment 2019 provides a full picture of today’s capital flows and what they might mean for tomorrow’s energy sector It assesses whether the frameworks and strategi...

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L1: Certificate in Energy Management Essentials - September 2019

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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L3: Advanced Energy Manager

This 10-day course is an advanced qualification aiming to support experienced energy managers to further advance their careers by gaining the skills and knowledge required to function successfully at a senior level and be able to manage energy across a wide range of business areas, activities and pa...

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Boiler User Group 2019: Energy from Waste, Biomass and Fossil Fuels

Event held by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. Fired boilers continue to play an important and significant role in the UK's generating fleet, alongside newer CCGT and renewable sources. While some older coal fired plants have been decommissioned, others continue to contribute to production c...

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Technical guidance publications

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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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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Guidance on the development and decommissioning of new combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) plant

This publication provides good practice for the safe commissioning of 'new build' CCGT plant projects. New build is plant that is being planned or has recently been constructed and being made ready (during the commissioning phase) for operation to an agreed specification and contract. It is intended...

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Model Code of Safe Practice Part 2: Guidance on the design, construction and operation of petroleum distribution installations

EI Model Code of Safe Practice Part 2: Guidance on the design, construction and operation of petroleum distribution installations has been developed to provide guidance and good practice in the layout, design and construction of distribution installations and their equipment. It also provides certai...

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