Renewable Energy - What is it?
Renewable energy is energy which comes from natural resources such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, and geothermal heat. About 16% of the global energy consumption comes from renewables, with 10% coming from traditional biomass, which is mainly used for heating, and 3.4% from hydroelectricity. New renewables (small hydro, modern biomass, wind, solar, geothermal, and biofuels) accounted for another 2.8% and are growing very rapidly.
Wind power is growing at the rate of 30% annually, with a worldwide installed capacity of 198 gigawatts (GW) in 2010, and is widely used in Europe, Asia, and the United States. At the end of 2010, cumulative global photovoltaic (PV) installations surpassed 40 GW and PV power stations are popular in Germany and Spain. Solar thermal power stations operate in the USA and Spain, and the largest of these is the 354 megawatt (MW) SEGS power plant in the Mojave Desert.
The world's largest geothermal power installation is The Geysers in California, with a rated capacity of 750 MW. 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% of the country's automotive fuel. Ethanol fuel is also widely available in the USA.
While many renewable energy projects are large-scale, renewable technologies are also suited to rural and remote areas, where energy is often crucial. As of 2011, small solar PV systems provide electricity to a few million households, and micro-hydro configured into mini-grids serves many more. Over 44 million households use biogas made in household-scale digesters for lighting and/or cooking, and more than 166 million households rely on a new generation of more-efficient biomass cookstoves.
Current Events Using Renewable Energy
- Greening of the US Army - Using Renewable Energy to Save Lives
- U.S. Navy Embracing Green Technologies