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?

Renewables became Britain’s main power source in Q1 2020

26-04-2020
Renewables generated more electricity than any other power source in the first three months of this year – the first time this landmark event has occurred, according to a report by energy market data analyst EnAppSys. This shows that renewables generated 35.4 TWh of power during the quarter – s...

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The UK's big picture – renewables up, coal down again in 2019

24-04-2020
The rise of renewables – particularly offshore wind – and the demise of coal were once again the most striking trends in the UK energy scene in 2019. Renewables’ share of the total electricity generation rose to 37% over the year, while coal production, imports and use as a fuel for power gener...

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Renewables can support a resilient and equitable recovery – IRENA

22-04-2020
Transforming the energy system could boost cumulative global GDP gains above business-as-usual by $98 trillion (€90.2 trillion) between now and 2050. It would nearly quadruple renewable energy jobs to 42 million, expand employment in energy efficiency to 21 million and add 15 million in system flexi...

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India’s renewables installations could fall by a fifth due to COVID-19 lockdown

22-04-2020
India could face over 21% – or 3 GW – of solar photovoltaic (PV) and wind installations being delayed as a result of the country’s lockdown, says research firm Wood Mackenzie in a new report.The report: Coronavirus: Timeout for India's renewable energy sector points to labour and supply chain disrup...

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Renewables overtake fossil fuels in Britain's electricity mix for first time

16-04-2020
Renewables have overtaken fossil fuels as the main source of electricity in Great Britain for the first time after a particularly windy season, and a slowdown in demand due to coronavirus. Wind, solar, biomass and hydropower accounted for 44.6 per cent of electricity supply between January and ...

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Events and training

Level 1: Certificate in Energy Management Essentials - September 2020

21-09-2020
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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Energy Efficiency: The Road to Net Zero

23-09-2020
Discover the latest approaches and strategies in energy efficiency that can help the UK reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

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Level 3: Advanced Energy Manager

28-09-2020
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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Powering Net Zero

8-10-2020
The Energy Institute’s new conference, Powering Net Zero, is designed to discuss ways in which clean electricity and electrification will be essential in reducing emissions globally to net zero.

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Level 1: Certificate in Energy Management Essentials - Dubai - October 2020

11-10-2020
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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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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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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Case study on reducing manual handling and ergonomics related incidents in the offshore wind industry

2020
This document provides support and practical examples to help reduce MH&E related incidents in the offshore wind industry. The requirement for support and guidelines to reduce MH incidents in the offshore wind industry originates from:Reporting that indicates that MH injuries are one of the larg...

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Battery storage guidance note 2: Battery energy storage system fire planning and response

2020
This publication is free to download. Please log in to see the download option.This publication provides guidance on how to respond to BESS fires. It represents the 'current state' of knowledge (in 2019), but also identifies gaps in knowledge. The guidance covers primarily non-domestic battery insta...

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French translation - Good practice guideline - The safe management of small service vessels used in the offshore wind industry

2020
This is the French translation of the publication Good practice guideline - The safe management of small service vessels used in the offshore wind industry. This is a translation of the 2nd edition of the English, which can be downloaded for free here.The G+ Global Offshore Wind Health &am...

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