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Renewable energy capacity additions in 2020 expanded by more than 45% from 2019, including 90% more new wind power (green) and a 23% expansion of new solar photovoltaic installations (yellow).
Renewable energy capacity additions in 2020 expanded by more than 45% from 2019, including 90% more new wind power (green) and a 23% expansion of new solar photovoltaic installations (yellow).

Renewable energy is energy that is collected from renewable resources that are naturally replenished on a human timescale. It includes sources such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, waves, and geothermal heat. Renewable energy stands in contrast to fossil fuels, which are being used far more quickly than they are being replenished. Although most renewable energy sources are sustainable, some are not. For example, some biomass sources are considered unsustainable at current rates of exploitation.

Renewable energy often provides energy in four important areas: electricity generation, air and water heating/cooling, transportation, and rural (off-grid) energy services. About 20% of humans' global energy consumption is renewables, including almost 30% of electricity. About 8% of energy consumption is traditional biomass, but this is declining. Over 4% of energy consumption is heat energy from modern renewables, such as solar water heating, and over 6% electricity.

Globally there are over 10 million jobs associated with the renewable energy industries, with solar photovoltaics being the largest renewable employer. Renewable energy systems are rapidly becoming more efficient and cheaper and their share of total energy consumption is increasing, with a large majority of worldwide newly installed electricity capacity being renewable. In most countries, photovoltaic solar or onshore wind are the cheapest new-build electricity.

Many nations around the world already have renewable energy contributing more than 20% of their energy supply, with some generating over half their electricity from renewables. National renewable energy markets are projected to continue to grow strongly in the coming decade and beyond. A few countries generate all their electricity using renewable energy. Renewable energy resources exist over wide geographical areas, in contrast to fossil fuels, which are concentrated in a limited number of countries. Deployment of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies is resulting in significant energy security, climate change mitigation, and economic benefits. However renewables are being hindered by hundreds of billions of dollars of fossil fuel subsidies. In international public opinion surveys there is strong support for promoting renewable sources such as solar power and wind power.

While many renewable energy projects are large-scale, renewable technologies are also suited to rural and remote areas and developing countries, where energy is often crucial in human development. As most of the renewable energy technologies provide electricity, renewable energy is often deployed together with further electrification, which has several benefits: electricity can be converted to heat, can be converted into mechanical energy with high efficiency, and is clean at the point of consumption. In addition, electrification with renewable energy is more efficient and therefore leads to significant reductions in primary energy requirements. In 2021, China accounted for almost half of the increase in renewable electricity. In 2021, Norway, known for its production of hydroelectricity, consumed hydro energy worth 45% of its total energy supply. (Full article...)

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Whitelee Wind Farm is operated by ScottishPower Renewables and is the largest on-shore wind farm in the United Kingdom with a total capacity of 539 megawatts (MW).
Whitelee Wind Farm is operated by ScottishPower Renewables and is the largest on-shore wind farm in the United Kingdom with a total capacity of 539 megawatts (MW).

The production of renewable energy in Scotland is a topic that has come to the fore in technical, economic, and political terms during the opening years of the 21st century. The natural resource base for renewable energy is high by European, and even global standards, with the most important potential sources being wind, wave, and tide. Renewables produced the equivalent of 97.4% of Scotland's electricity consumption in 2020, mostly from the country's wind power.

In 2015, Scotland generated 59% of its electricity consumption through renewable sources, exceeding the country's goal of 50% renewable electricity by that year. At the start of 2020, Scotland had 11.8 gigawatts (GW) of installed renewable electricity capacity, which produced approximately 25% of total UK renewable generation (119,000 GWh). In 2018, Scotland exported over 28 per cent of generation and in 2019 renewable electricity generation made up 90% of gross electricity consumption. In decreasing order of capacity, Scotland's renewable generation comes from onshore wind, hydropower, offshore wind, solar PV and biomass.

Continuing improvements in engineering and economics are enabling more of the renewable resources to be used. Fears regarding peak oil and climate change have driven the subject high up the political agenda. The Scottish Government's energy plans now call for 100% of electricity consumption to be generated through renewable sources and that half of total energy consumption (including heat and transportation) will be met from renewables by 2030. Although the finances of some projects remain speculative or dependent on market incentives there has been a significant and in all likelihood long-term change, in the underpinning economics. (Full article...)
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  • "To truly transform our economy, protect our security, and save our planet from the ravages of climate change, we need to ultimately make clean, renewable energy the profitable kind of energy." -Barack Obama, Address to Joint Session of Congress, Feb. 24, 2009

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Renewable energy commercialization · Smart grid · Timeline of sustainable energy research 2020–present

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List of countries by electricity production from renewable sources

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Rapeseed field at Grendon, Northamptonshire. Rapeseed oil is used in the manufacture of biodiesel for powering motor vehicles.

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... that the Cragside country house in Northumberland, England was the first house in the world to be lit using hydroelectric power? In 1870, water from one of the estate's lakes was used to drive a Siemens dynamo in what was the world's first hydroelectric power station. The resultant electricity was used to power an arc lamp installed in the Gallery in 1878.

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