Renewable energy

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Renewable energy comes from renewable resources.[1] It is different from fossil fuels as it does not produce as many greenhouse gases and other pollutants as fossil fuel combustion.

There are a lot of traditional uses of wind power, hydropower, biofuel, and solar energy in developed and developing countries. But the mass production of electricity using renewable energy sources is now becoming more common.

Renewable energy sources: wind, sun and biomass.

Growth of renewables[change | change source]

From the end of 2004, worldwide renewable energy capacity grew at rates of 10–60% annually for many technologies. For wind power and many other renewable technologies, growth sped up in 2009 relative to the previous four years. More wind power was added during 2009 than any other renewable technology. However, grid-connected PV increased the fastest of all renewables technologies, with a 60% annual average growth rate.

Selected renewable energy global indicators[2][3][4] 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
Investment in new renewable capacity (annual) (109 USD) 130 160 211 257 244 214
Renewables power capacity (existing) (GWe) 1,140 1,230 1,320 1,360 1,470 1,560
Hydropower capacity (existing) (GWe) 885 915 945 970 990 1,000
Wind power capacity (existing) (GWe) 121 159 198 238 283 318
Solar PV capacity (grid-connected) (GWe) 16 23 40 70 100 139
Solar hot water capacity (existing) (GWth) 130 160 185 232 255 326
Ethanol production (annual) (109 litres) 67 76 86 86 83 87
Biodiesel production (annual) (109 litres) 12 17.8 18.5 21.4 22.5 26
Countries with policy targets
for renewable energy use
79 89 98 118 138 144

Projections vary, but scientists have advanced a plan to power 100% of the world's energy with wind, hydroelectric, and solar power by the year 2030.[5]

Wind power market grows[change | change source]

At the end of 2009, worldwide wind farm capacity was 157,900 megawatts (MW), representing an increase of 31 percent during the year,[6] and wind power supplied some 1.3% of global electricity consumption.[7] Wind power is widely used in European countries, and more recently in the United States and Asia.[8][9] Wind power accounts for approximately 19% of electricity generation in Denmark, 11% in Spain and Portugal, and 9% in the Republic of Ireland.[10] These are some of the largest wind farms in the world, as of January 2010:

Wind power: worldwide installed capacity [11]
Wind farm Installed
Capricorn Ridge Wind Farm 662 USA
Fowler Ridge Wind Farm 600 USA
Horse Hollow Wind Energy Center 736 USA
Roscoe Wind Farm 781 USA
San Gorgonio Pass Wind Farm] 619 USA
Tehachapi Pass Wind Farm 690 USA

World's largest PV power plants[change | change source]

Nellis Solar Power Plant at Nellis Air Force Base in the USA. These panels track the sun in one axis.

Solar photovoltaic cells convert sunlight into electricity and many solar photovoltaic power stations have been built, mainly in Europe.[12] As of December 2010, the largest photovoltaic (PV) power plants in the world are the Sarnia Photovoltaic Power Plant (Canada, 97 MW), Montalto di Castro Photovoltaic Power Station (Italy, 84.2 MW), Finsterwalde Solar Park (Germany, 80.7 MW), Rovigo Photovoltaic Power Plant (Italy, 70 MW), Olmedilla Photovoltaic Park (Spain, 60 MW), the Strasskirchen Solar Park (Germany, 54 MW), and the Lieberose Photovoltaic Park (Germany, 53 MW).[12] Larger power stations are under construction, some proposed will have a capacity of 150 MW or more.[13]

Many of these plants are integrated with agriculture and some use innovative tracking systems that follow the sun's daily path across the sky to generate more electricity than conventional fixed-mounted systems. There are no fuel costs or emissions during operation of the power stations.

New generation of solar thermal plants[change | change source]

The 11 MW PS10 solar power tower near Seville, Spain.

Large solar thermal power stations include the 354 megawatt (MW) Solar Energy Generating Systems power installation in the USA, Solnova Solar Power Station (Spain, 150 MW), Andasol solar power station (Spain, 100 MW), Nevada Solar One (USA, 64 MW), PS20 solar power tower (Spain, 20 MW), and the PS10 solar power tower (Spain, 11 MW). The 370 MW Ivanpah Solar Power Facility, located in California's Mojave Desert, is the world’s largest solar thermal power plant project currently under construction.[14]

The solar thermal power industry is growing fast with 1.2 GW under construction as of April 2009 and another 13.9 GW announced globally through 2014. Spain is the epicenter of solar thermal power development with 22 projects for 1,037 MW under construction, all of which are projected to come online by the end of 2010.[15] In the United States, 5,600 MW of solar thermal power projects have been announced.[16] In developing countries, three World Bank projects for integrated solar thermal/combined-cycle gas-turbine power plants in Egypt, Mexico, and Morocco have been approved.[17]

Ethanol for transportation[change | change source]

Brazil has one of the largest renewable energy programs in the world, involving production of ethanol fuel from sugar cane, and ethanol now provides 18 percent of the country's automotive fuel. As a result, Brazil, which years ago had to import a large share of the petroleum needed for domestic consumption, recently reached complete self-sufficiency in oil.[18]

Most cars on the road today in the U.S. can run on blends of up to 10% ethanol, and motor vehicle manufacturers already produce vehicles designed to run on much higher ethanol blends. Ford, DaimlerChrysler, and General Motors Corporation are among the automobile companies that sell “flexible-fuel” cars, trucks, and minivans that can use gasoline and ethanol blends ranging from pure gasoline up to 85% ethanol (E85). By mid-2006, there were approximately six million E85-compatible vehicles on U.S. roads.[19]

Other pages[change | change source]

Notes[change | change source]

  1. Resources that for all practical purposes cannot be exhausted): United States Department of Energy Glossary of energy-related terms (URL accessed Dec 21, 2006)
  2. REN21 (2012). Renewables Global Status Report 2012 p. 17.
  3. "REN21 2013 Renewables Global Status Report" (PDF). Retrieved 2014-01-30.
  5. Jacobson, Mark Z.; Delucchi, M.A. (November 2009). "A Path to Sustainable Energy by 2030" (PDF). Scientific American 301 (5): 58–65. doi:10.1038/scientificamerican1109-58. PMID 19873905.
  6. Lars Kroldrup. Gains in Global Wind Capacity Reported Green Inc., February 15, 2010.
  7. World Wind Energy Association (2008). Wind turbines generate more than 1 % of the global electricity
  8. Global wind energy markets continue to boom – 2006 another record year (PDF).
  9. Global Wind Energy Council (2009). Global Wind 2008 Report, p. 9, accessed on January 4, 2010.
  10. International Energy Agency (2009). IEA Wind Energy: Annual Report 2008 p. 9.
  11. GWEC, Global Wind Report Annual Market Update
  12. 12.0 12.1 Denis Lenardic. Large-scale photovoltaic power plants ranking 1 - 50, 2010.
  13. Mark Z. Jacobson (2009). Review of Solutions to Global Warming, Air Pollution, and Energy Security p. 4.
  14. Todd Woody. In California’s Mojave Desert, Solar-Thermal Projects Take Off Yale Environment 360, 27 October 2010.
  15. Global Concentrated Solar Power Industry to Reach 25 GW by 2020
  16. Solar Thermal Projects Under Review or Announced
  17. REN21 (2008). Renewables 2007 Global Status Report (PDF) p. 12.
  18. America and Brazil Intersect on Ethanol
  19. American energy: The renewable path to energy security

Other websites[change | change source]