Portal:Renewable Energy
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Introduction

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

Renewable energy is useful energy that is collected from renewable resources, which are naturally replenished on a human timescale, including carbon neutral sources like sunlight, wind, rain, tides, waves, and geothermal heat. This type of energy source stands in contrast to fossil fuels, which are being used far more quickly than they are being replenished. Although most renewable energy is sustainable energy, some is not, for example some biomass is unsustainable.

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. In 2017, worldwide investments in renewable energy amounted to US$279.8 billion with China accounting for 45% of the global investments, and the United States and Europe both around 15%. Globally there were an estimated 10.5 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. As of 2020, in most countries, photovoltaic solar and onshore wind are the cheapest forms of building new electricity-generating plants.

At the national level, at least 30 nations around the world already have renewable energy contributing more than 20 percent of their energy supply. National renewable energy markets are projected to continue to grow strongly in the coming decade and beyond. 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, 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 2017, investments in renewable energy amounted to US$279.8 billion worldwide, with China accounting for US$126.6 billion or 45% of the global investments. According to researcher Dr Cornelia Tremann, "China has since become the world's largest investor, producer and consumer of renewable energy worldwide, manufacturing state-of-the-art solar panels, wind turbines and hydroelectric energy facilities" as well as becoming the world's largest producer of electric cars and buses. (Full article...)

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A solar power tower, also known as 'central tower' power plant or 'heliostat' power plant, is a type of solar furnace using a tower to receive focused sunlight. It uses an array of flat, movable mirrors (called heliostats) to focus the sun's rays upon a collector tower (the target). Concentrated solar thermal is seen as one viable solution for renewable, pollution-free energy.

Early designs used these focused rays to heat water, and used the resulting steam to power a turbine. Newer designs using liquid sodium have been demonstrated, and systems using molten salts (40% potassium nitrate, 60% sodium nitrate) as the working fluids are now in operation. These working fluids have high heat capacity, which can be used to store the energy before using it to boil water to drive turbines. These designs also allow power to be generated when the sun is not shining. (Full article...)

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  • "The sunlight ... that strikes Earth's land surface in two hours is equivalent to total human energy use in a year. While much of that sunlight becomes heat, solar energy is also responsible for the energy embodied in wind, hydro, wave, and biomass, each with the potential to be harnessed for human use. Only a small portion of that enormous daily, renewable flux of energy will ever be needed by humanity."
  • "Improved energy productivity and renewable energy are both available in abundance--and new policies and technologies are rapidly making them more economically competitive with fossil fuels. In combination, these energy options represent the most robust alternative to the current energy system, capable of providing the diverse array of energy services that a modern economy requires. Given the urgency of the climate problem, that is indeed convenient."

- Christopher Flavin in Worldwatch Institute (2008). Building a Low-Carbon Economy in State of the World 2008, p. 80.

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View of the offshore wind farm at Middelgrunden, near Copenhagen
The Middelgrunden offshore wind farm in Øresund, delivers about 4% of the power for Copenhagen.

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Chu in 2009

Steven Chu (born February 28, 1948) is an American physicist and government official. He is a Nobel laureate and was the 12th United States Secretary of Energy. He is currently the William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Physics and Professor of Molecular and Cellular Physiology at Stanford University. He is known for his research at the University of California, Berkeley, and his research at Bell Laboratories and Stanford University regarding the cooling and trapping of atoms with laser light, for which he shared the 1997 Nobel Prize in Physics with Claude Cohen-Tannoudji and William Daniel Phillips.

Chu served as United States Secretary of Energy under the administration of President Barack Obama 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. (Full article...)

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... that the first recorded instance of solar distillation was by 16th century Arab alchemists? A large-scale solar distillation project was first constructed in 1872 in Chile a mining town of Las Salinas. The plant, which had a solar collection area of 4,700 m², could produce up to 22,700 L per day and operated for 40 years. Individual still designs include single-slope, double-slope (or greenhouse type), vertical, conical, inverted absorber, multi-wick, and multiple effect. These stills can operate in passive, active, or hybrid modes. Double-slope stills are the most economical for decentralized domestic purposes, while active multiple effect units are more suitable for large-scale applications.

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