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Renewable Energy

 

 

Renewable energy is the energy that is derived from a limitless source, in contrast to fossil fuels derived from a finite source.  Types of renewables include solar energy (power from the sun), wind energy, tidal energy (power from the seas) and geothermal energy (power in the form of heat from heat within the earth). Energy can be called renewable if it can neither run out nor easily be replaced.

  

As of 2015 renewables contributed 19.2% to humans’ global energy consumption and this energy consumption is divided as 8.9% coming from traditional biomass, 4.2% as heat energy (modern biomass, geothermal and solar heat), 3.9% hydroelectricity and 2.2% is electricity from wind, solar, geothermal, and biomass. These changes and growth in the renewable sector have been staggering.

  • In 2015 investment in renewables reached a record high of $286 billion, which was more than double the amount of investment in fossil fuels. It also represents a 615% increase since 2004.

  • Off the grid distributed energy investment attracted a record $276 million, demonstrating the potential to bridge the energy gap.

  • Share of renewable energy in final energy consumption reached 19.2%.

  • Renewables made up 53.6% of the gigawatt capacity of all technologies installed in 2015, the first time it has represented a majority.

  • 8 million people are now employed in the renewable energy sector.

  • The climate change conference in Paris in December 2015, known as COP21, produced an unprecedented agreement among 195 countries to act for zero net emissions in the second half of the century.

  • As a result of climate change, huge pressure has been placed on governments causing massive policy shifts; for example the international monetary fund (IMF) will no longer finance coal projects.  Also for the first time in 100 years the United Kingdom ran without coal for a whole day.

  • Price of solar panels has dropped 95% since 2008.

  • The cost per MW/h of solar PV has dropped 63% since 2009.

  • The cost per MW/h of onshore wind has dropped 14% since 2009.

So what has been the catalyst behind the renewables industry evolving from what was basically non-existent at the start of this century to providing 20% of all electricity consumed?  The answer is that there are a vast interlinked number of reasons, but in general the three key factors are climate change, economic and health.