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Introduction

Wind, solar, and hydroelectricity are three renewable sources of energy.

Renewable energy is energy that is collected from renewable resources, which are naturally replenished on a human timescale, such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, waves, and geothermal heat. Renewable energy often provides energy in four important areas: electricity generation, air and water heating/cooling, transportation, and rural (off-grid) energy services.

Based on REN21's 2017 report, renewables contributed 19.3% to humans' global energy consumption and 24.5% to their generation of electricity in 2015 and 2016, respectively. 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% from hydroelectricity and the remaining 2.2% is electricity from wind, solar, geothermal, and other forms of biomass. Worldwide investments in renewable technologies amounted to more than US$286 billion in 2015. In 2017, worldwide investments in renewable energy amounted to US$279.8 billion with China accounting for US$126.6 billion or 45% of the global investments, the United States for US$40.5 billion and Europe for US$40.9 billion. Globally there are an estimated 7.7 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. As of 2019, more than two-thirds of worldwide newly installed electricity capacity was renewable. Growth in consumption of coal and oil could end by 2020 due to increased uptake of renewables and natural gas.

At the national level, at least 30 nations around the world already have renewable energy contributing more than 20 percent of energy supply. National renewable energy markets are projected to continue to grow strongly in the coming decade and beyond. Some places and at least two countries, Iceland and Norway, generate all their electricity using renewable energy already, and many other countries have the set a goal to reach 100% renewable energy in the future. At least 47 nations around the world already have over 50 percent of electricity from renewable resources. Renewable energy resources exist over wide geographical areas, in contrast to fossil fuels, which are concentrated in a limited number of countries. Rapid deployment of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies is resulting in significant energy security, climate change mitigation, and economic benefits. 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 renewable energy technologies provide electricity, renewable energy deployment is often applied in conjunction with further electrification, which has several benefits: electricity can be converted to heat (where necessary generating higher temperatures than fossil fuels), 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.

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Global Horizontal Irradiation in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The developing nations of Africa are popular locations for the application of renewable energy technology. Currently, many nations already have small-scale solar, wind, and geothermal devices in operation providing energy to urban and rural populations. These types of energy production are especially useful in remote locations because of the excessive cost of transporting electricity from large-scale power plants. The applications of renewable energy technology has the potential to alleviate many of the problems that face Africans every day, especially if done in a sustainable manner that prioritizes human rights.

Access to energy is essential for the reduction of poverty and promotion of economic growth. Communication technologies, education, industrialization, agricultural improvement and expansion of municipal water systems all require abundant, reliable, and cost-effective energy access. Read more...
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  • "Perhaps because of its technical, economic, and thermodynamic advantages, a renewable power sector would have six benefits over one reliant on conventional power plants, including (1) lower negative externalities per kWh, (2) more stable and predictable fuel prices, (3) fewer greenhouse gas emissions, (4) less water use, (5) improved efficiency, and (6) greater local employment and revenue." – Benjamin K. Sovacool and Charmaine Watts. The Electricity Journal, May 2009, Vol. 22, Issue 4, p. 99.
  • "... renewable electricity technologies present policy makers with a superior alternative for minimising the risk of fuel interruptions and shortages, helping improve the fragile transmission network and reducing environmental harm. These smaller and more environmentally friendly generators cost less to construct, produce power in smaller increments and need not rely on continuous government subsidies. They generate little to no waste, have less greenhouse gas emissions per unit of electricity produced and do not contribute significantly to the risk of accidents." – Benjamin K. Sovacool, Journal of Contemporary Asia, 40(3), 2010, p. 371.

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Tokai University's solar car "Tokai Challenger", the winner of 2009 Global Green Challenge.
Tokai University's solar car "Tokai Challenger", the winner of the 2009 World Solar Challenge in Australia.

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Steven Chu official DOE portrait.jpg

Steven Chu born February 28, 1948) is an American physicist and a former government official. He is known for his research at the University of California at Berkeley and his research at Bell Labs and Stanford University regarding the cooling and trapping of atoms with laser light, for which he won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1997, along with his scientific colleagues Claude Cohen-Tannoudji and William Daniel Phillips.

Chu served as the 12th United States Secretary of Energy from 2009 to 2013. At the time of his appointment as Energy Secretary, Chu was a professor of physics and molecular and cellular biology at the University of California, Berkeley, and the director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, where his research was concerned primarily with the study of biological systems at the single molecule level. Chu resigned as energy secretary on April 22, 2013. He returned to Stanford as Professor of Physics and Professor of Molecular & Cellular Physiology. Read more...

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... that efficient energy use is most often achieved by adopting a more efficient technology or production process ? Energy efficient buildings, industrial processes and transportation could reduce the world's energy needs in 2050 by one third, and help controlling global emissions of greenhouse gases, according to the International Energy Agency. Energy efficiency and renewable energy are said to be the twin pillars of sustainable energy policy.

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