As the world looks for ways to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels and combat climate change, renewable energy technologies are coming to the fore. Here are seven that could have a significant impact in the years to come.
Solar power is one of the most promising renewable energy technologies. It is emission-free and versatile and can generate electricity, heat water, and even power vehicles.
As countries look for ways to reduce reliance on fossil fuels, solar power is becoming increasingly important. In many parts of the world, solar panels are now being used to generate a significant amount of electricity.
According to the International Energy Agency, the global installed capacity of solar photovoltaics (PV) reached almost 620 gigawatts (GW) in 2019, up from just over 300 GW just five years earlier. And there’s still huge growth potential – the IEA estimates that solar could provide more than 27% of global electricity by 2050.
Indeed, in some cases, solar power is now the cheapest form of energy available.
As solar technology improves and prices fall, solar will likely play an even bigger role in powering the world in the future.
Wind power is another renewable energy source that’s been growing rapidly in recent years.
According to the IEA, the global installed capacity of wind turbines reached almost 607 GW in 2019, up from just over 487 GW in 2014. And like solar, there’s still a lot of room for growth – the agency estimates that wind could provide more than 19% of global electricity by 2050.
Countries are turning to wind energy to power their homes and businesses. There are now more than 1,000 operating wind farms in 100 countries, with a total capacity of nearly 500,000 megawatts. That’s enough to power more than 130 million homes!
In the United States, wind energy is one of the fastest-growing sources of electricity. According to the American Wind Energy Association(AWEA), wind power capacity in the US has increased by more than 25% in the past five years.
What’s driving this growth? For one thing, wind energy is becoming increasingly cost-competitive with other forms of generation, such as natural gas and coal.
In addition, wind turbines are now being built taller and with larger blades, making them more efficient at capturing the wind’s energy.
As a result of these improvements, the cost of wind energy has fallen by 90% since the 1980s. With costs continuing to decline, wind will likely play an even bigger role in meeting global energy needs in the years ahead.
Hydropower is a form of renewable energy that uses water to generate electricity. It’s not only clean and environmentally friendly, but it’s also incredibly efficient. In fact, hydropower currently supplies around 16% of the world’s electricity.
And it’s not just large countries that are investing in hydropower.
Smaller countries are starting to see the benefits as well.
In Lesotho, for example, a new hydropower plant was recently built to provide electricity for the country’s capital city, Maseru. The plant cost around $ US320 million to build but should save Lesotho millions of dollars each year in fuel costs.
Hydro energy is one of the oldest forms of renewable energy, and it still provides a significant amount of power around the world. According to the IEA, hydropower generated 3.6% of global electricity in 2018, and it’s expected to continue playing a role in the energy mix in the years to come.
There are many reasons why hydropower is such a popular source of energy. For one, it is a very efficient way to generate electricity. Hydropower plants can have operating expenses as low as 1% of the cost of conventional power plants.
Moreover, hydropower is a clean energy source that does not produce greenhouse gases or other pollutants.
The technology behind hydropower is also constantly evolving, making it an even more attractive option for the future.
One of the latest developments in hydropower is floating solar farms. These solar farms are built on reservoirs and use the water to cool the panels, resulting in more efficient electricity production.
Wave and tidal energy
Wave and tidal power are two forms of renewable energy derived from the natural movement of water. Wave energy is created by the force of waves crashing against the shore, while tidal power is generated by the rise and fall of tides.
People have used both forms of energy for centuries to power mills and pumps, but they are only now being developed as a source of electricity.
The world’s first wave farm was completed in Scotland in 2000, and since then, several other plants have been built around the world. One of the largest wave farm currently in operation is the Simec Atlantic Array, which can generate enough electricity to power over 20,000 homes.
In 2018, it was announced that the world’s first floating wind farm had been completed off the coast of Scotland. The farm consists of five turbines tethered to the seabed and can generate enough electricity to power nearly 20,000 homes.
Tidal power plants have also been built in several countries, including Canada, China, France, South Korea, and the United Kingdom. The Seagreen 1 tidal power plant in Scotland is currently under construction and is expected to be operational in 2025. When completed, it will be one of the world’s largest.
According to the IEA, wave and tidal could provide up to 10% of global electricity by 2050.
Geothermal power is a renewable energy that harnesses the Earth’s internal heat to generate electricity. Unlike fossil fuels, which produce emissions that can contribute to climate change, geothermal power is a clean and sustainable energy source.
In addition, geothermal power plants can provide a steady and reliable source of electricity, even when the sun isn’t shining, or the wind isn’t blowing. As a result, geothermal power plays an increasingly important role in our transition to a low-carbon economy.
According to the International Geothermal Association, more than 26 countries currently operate geothermal power plants. The same organization estimates geothermal power plants produce around 3.5 gigawatts of electricity, enough to power 3 million homes.
The United States is the world’s leading producer of geothermal electricity, followed by the Philippines and Indonesia. Kenya is also a major player in the geothermal space, with plans to increase its output from 200 megawatts to 1 gigawatts by 2030.
Some of the latest developments in geothermal power include the world’s largest geothermal power plant in Turkey and a new plant in Kenya that is set to provide power to more than 1 million people. With advances in technology and increasing investment, it is clear that geothermal power is poised to play a significant role in our future energy mix.
Biomass is a renewable energy source that can take many forms, including wood, crop waste, and Municipal Solid Waste (MSW). It can be used to generate electricity, heat, or transportation fuels.
According to the IEA, biomass currently accounts for around 10% of the global primary energy supply, and it is expected to play a significant role in the energy mix in the years to come.
This increase is mainly due to the growing use of biomass for power generation. In 2017, biomass provided around 4% of global electricity, up from 2% in 2010. The majority of biomass power plants are located in Europe and Asia.
The United States is also a major biomass power producer, with around 100 plants in operation. Biomass power faces several challenges, including high costs and environmental concerns.
However, the latest technologies are helping to overcome these challenges and make biomass a more viable option for the future.
Nuclear power is a controversial renewable energy source, but it cannot be ignored. According to the World Nuclear Association, it currently provides around 11% of global electricity, and it is expected to play a significant role in the energy mix in the years to come.
Nuclear energy uses sunlight to split atoms and generate heat. This heat is then used to generate electricity through a process called nuclear fission.
Currently, more than 442 nuclear power plants are operating in 30 countries worldwide, with a total capacity of almost 400,000 megawatts. In addition, there are another 54 plants under construction in 15 countries.
The use of nuclear power has grown significantly over the past few decades. In 1970, nuclear power accounted for less than 1% of the world’s electricity production, and today supplies about 11% of the world’s electricity.
There are several reasons why nuclear power is growing in popularity. For one, it produces no greenhouse gas emissions, making it an attractive option for combating climate change. In addition, it is a very efficient form of energy production, with a typical plant generating about two to three times more electricity than a coal-fired plant of the same size.
Finally, nuclear plants have a small footprint and can be located almost anywhere.
Despite its benefits, nuclear power does have some drawbacks. The most notable of these is the risk of a nuclear accident. Although the chances of this happening are extremely low, the potential consequences are very catastrophic.
These are just a few of the renewable energy technologies that have the potential to change our world.
As we continue to research and develop these technologies, they will become more efficient and less expensive, making them more viable options for both large-scale power generation and small-scale home energy production.