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?

Renewables triple investor returns compared to fossils since 2010

12-04-2021
Investments in renewables have seen a 367% greater return than comparable investments in fossil fuels since 2010, finds a new study from Imperial College London and the International Energy Agency (IEA). The report looks at the performance of publicly-traded renewable energy and fossil fuel fir...

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UK partnership unveils renewables projects in South Africa

8-04-2021
UK Climate Investments, a programme administered in part by BEIS, has marked the delivery of 254 MW of clean energy projects it helped to finance in South Africa following the inauguration of Kruisvallei Hydro, a 4 MW run-of-river hydropower facility in the Free State province. Macquarie’s Green Inv...

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Carbon pricing versus renewable subsidies

1-04-2021
To drive down emissions, should politicians introduce policies that subsidise renewable power, or policies that make polluting more expensive? Economists Klaus Gugler, Adhurim Haxhimusa and Mario Liebensteiner have analysed the data to find out. 

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BP service stations to be powered with 100% renewable energy in Australia

9-03-2021
Lightsource BP reports that through a power purchase agreement (PPA) with Snowy Hydro, its West Wyalong solar farm will supply renewable energy to 88 of BP’s service stations across New South Wales, Australia, from January 2023.Snowy Hydro is the fourth largest energy retailer in the Australian nati...

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New renewables could speed up road to net zero

4-03-2021
The widespread adoption of high blend renewable fuels (HBRF) could cut an extra 46mn tonnes of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from truck operations by 2030 and speed up decarbonisation in road transport, supporting the UK’s transition to net zero emissions by 2050, according to a new study by Zemo P...

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Events and training

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 free webinar | People, Project & Partnership at 60°North

29-04-2021
The Shetland Islands, located at 60°North has always been an outward-looking place with a mindset to match. By geological design, Shetland has been a strategic location for fishing, aquaculture and oil & gas for decades.

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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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EI Live free webinar | What does process safety mean for the renewables industry?

11-05-2021
For more information, please visit https://www.energyinst.org/whats-on/search/renewables#process-safety 

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International Symposium on Applied Microbiology and Molecular Biology in Oil Systems

8-06-2021
Call for Abstracts for ISMOS-8:For more information please visit www.ismos-8.org or view the flyer

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Technical guidance publications

Good practice guidelines for safe helicopter operations in support of the global offshore wind industry (Section B)

2021
These guidelines is support continuous improvement in managing health and safety risks to and from helicopter operations, enabling safe development of the global offshore wind industry. They aim to help the industry integrate helicopter operations safely into projects, taking an approach appropriate...

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Good practice guidelines for safe helicopter operations in support of the global offshore wind industry (Section A)

2021
These guidelines is support continuous improvement in managing health and safety risks to and from helicopter operations, enabling safe development of the global offshore wind industry. They aim to help the industry integrate helicopter operations safely into projects, taking an approach appropriate...

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HM 63. Independent inspection company auditing – Pre-audit information

2021
The publication provides notes on auditing procedures and contains three key checklists:Information to be provided by the auditor (for use in advance of a physical audit)Information to be provided by the auditee (for use in advance of a physical audit and as the first part of a self assessment)Addit...

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EI Research Report: Determination of recalibration intervals for fiscal metering measurements (HM 1803)

2021
This report provides an overview of the four currently identified methodologies for determining calibration intervals:− Calendar-based− Condition-based− Performance-based− Risk-basedFor each method, the procedure for implementing the methodology is described, the advantages a...

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Guidance for integrity root-cause analysis

2021
This publication helps the integrity community to learn from low criticality incidents.The guidance introduces the topic of root-cause analyses (RCA) and how to address and capture lessons from 'more frequent - low consequence' incidents within the integrity management system. Along with its compani...

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