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?

Tomorrow’s renewable ambitions depend on today’s innovations

1-03-2021
Patent filings can tell you a lot about which markets and technologies are likely to propel the energy transition forward. Georgina Ainscow, Andrew Carridge and Duncan Nevett, partners at Reddie & Grose, analyse recent developments.

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How social investment can help community renewables grow

1-03-2021
Community renewables projects have a unique role to play in decarbonising the UK’s energy mix – delivering additional benefits to local people. Here, Ben Rick of Social and Sustainable Capital lays out a roadmap for the sector’s success.

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Total to outpace Iberdrola and Ørsted on renewable power capacity by 2030

15-02-2021
New analysis from Westwood Global Energy Group reveals Total will outpace clean energy majors Iberdrola and Ørsted on renewable power capacity by 2030.The analysis highlights Total’s ambitions to reach 100 GW of renewable power capacity by 2030, eclipsed only by utility Enel which aims to have 145 G...

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Renewable electricity powers wind turbine blade manufacturer

8-02-2021
Black Dog Biogas, the owner and operator of an anaerobic digestion plant near Newport on the Isle of Wight, has completed commissioning of a private wire to supply renewable electricity to Vestas’ neighbouring wind blade manufacturing facility. The project will supply low-carbon electricity to Vesta...

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Offshore renewables hold the key to post-COVID recovery

1-02-2021
Large-scale investment, much of it from overseas, will be essential to any low-carbon recovery from the pandemic in the UK. Here, Rick Campbell argues that offshore wind will be a big part of that exercise.

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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 webinar | Greening of the Gas Network

30-03-2021
Energy Institute Northern Ireland Branch, is hosting a webinar bringing together key stakeholders in the gas industry to discuss how to green the gas network.

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EI LIVE Free Webinar | Hydrogen and the new era for clean energy

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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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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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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HM 79. Shore tank handbook. Tank design and ancilliary equipment relating to measurement and sampling of hydrocarbon liquids in shore tanks

2021
This document identifies the standards and considers alternative designs and equipment used in onshore storage tanks for petroleum liquids, specifically concerning satisfying measurement and sampling requirements. Other issues such as foundation stability, mechanical design, coating and corrosion pr...

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Guidance on managing obsolescence and upgrading industrial automation and control systems (IACS)

2021
This publication provides information and guidance on the factors that should be considered in the successful management of obsolescence of an IACS, by providing a practical approach and suggested courses of action. Each and every IACS is different as a result of its unique use, and varies depending...

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