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.

General growth of renewable energy consumption[change | edit source]

In 2008, about 19% of global final energy consumption came from renewables, with 13% coming from traditional biomass, which is mainly used for heating, and 3.2% from hydroelectricity.[2] New renewable energy sources (small hydro, modern biomass, wind, solar, geothermal, and biofuels) accounted for another 2.7% and are growing very rapidly.[2]

Wind power market grows[change | edit source]

At the end of 2009, worldwide wind farm capacity was 157,900 megawatts (MW), representing an increase of 31 percent during the year,[3] and wind power supplied some 1.3% of global electricity consumption.[4] Wind power is widely used in European countries, and more recently in the United States and Asia.[5][6] Wind power accounts for approximately 19% of electricity generation in Denmark, 11% in Spain and Portugal, and 9% in the Republic of Ireland.[7] These are some of the largest wind farms in the world, as of January 2010:

Wind power: worldwide installed capacity [8]
Wind farm Installed
capacity
(MW)
Country
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 | edit 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.[9] 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).[9] Larger power stations are under construction, some proposed will have a capacity of 150 MW or more.[10]

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 | edit 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.[11]

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.[12] In the United States, 5,600 MW of solar thermal power projects have been announced.[13] 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.[14]

Ethanol for transportation[change | edit 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.[15]

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.[16]

Other pages[change | edit source]

Notes[change | edit source]

Other websites[change | edit source]