Feature Reports

Renewable Energy Producers and Consumers

© PROEHL STEVE / SUNPOWER CORP

Renewable energy, provided by the sun, wind, water, the Earth’s heat or organic matter, accounted for roughly a fifth of global electricity production in 2012. These energy sources are considered inexhaustible, unlike fossil fuels, which are being depleted. Renewable energies can meet some energy needs — heat, electricity and fuel — and have a smaller environmental footprint.  

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Featured Figures

Global Hydropower Production

Hydropower is produced by damming water. It is generally consumed locally. The leading source of renewable energyEnergy sources that are naturally replenished so quickly that they can be considered inexhaustible on a human time scale... in the world, hydropower accounted for more than 16% of global powerIn physics, power is the amount of energy supplied by a system per unit time. In simpler terms, power can be viewed as energy output... generation in 2017, making it the third largest source of global power generation behind coalCoal is ranked by its degree of transformation or maturity, increasing in carbon content from... (40%) and gas (19%). Hydropower is also one of the most evenly distributed sources of renewable energy.


China is by far the world’s leading producer, generating more than a quarter of global output. Brazil, Canada and the United States are the other industry heavyweights. Production often varies significantly from one year to the next, depending on climatic conditions. 


In the countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECDFounded in 1960, the OECD promotes policies that will improve the economic and social well-being of people around the world...), the development potential has largely been realized. In emerging economies, environmental and social issues (such as biodiversityRefers to the natural diversity of living organisms. It can be measured through the study of species, genes and ecosystems. and population displacement) and investment costs impede the launch of major projects.

 

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Global installed photovoltaic solar capacity went from strength to strength, led by global giants China (up 67.9%) and the United States (up 26.2%).Robust growth was also reported in Australia and Japan. Although a longtime pioneer in the global solar industry, Germany has been stalling in recent years and now lags far behind the United States and Japan in terms of installed capacityThe power generation capacity of a particular plant. It is usually expressed in megawatts (or sometimes even gigawatts)....


Thanks to strong growth in its solar (and wind) industry and the ongoing shift from coalCoal is ranked by its degree of transformation or maturity, increasing in carbon content from... to gas in the powerIn physics, power is the amount of energy supplied by a system per unit time. In simpler terms, power can be viewed as energy output... generation mix, the United States was the only country to report a decrease in CO2emissions in 2017. 


In Europe, France recorded one of fastest rates of growth, albeit starting from a much lower level: its installed capacity is almost six times lower than that of Germany.

 

 

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Concentrated solar powerIn physics, power is the amount of energy supplied by a system per unit time. In simpler terms, power can be viewed as energy output... is growing significantly, but still only accounts for 0.7% of the global energy mixThe range of energy sources of a region..

In 2012, the market continued to stabilize across the European Union. Total European capacity rose by 14.8% in 2013, reaching a total capacity of 79.6 GWth. Growth in concentrated solar power has slowed: from 3.36 GWth of additional capacity in 2008 to 2.1 GWth in 2012. After the financial crisis in 2008, there has been little investment in building new plants or upgrading older ones. Reduced government incentives have also contributed to the market slowdown.

Germany alone has 40% of the installed concentrated solar power capacity in Europe, followed by Italy. Poland, which started to develop this energy source later, stands out in Europe for the strong growth in its concentrated solar power capacity, with a high pace of growth in installing this type of plant — 19% in 2012 and 23% in 2013.

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Global installed wind powerIn physics, power is the amount of energy supplied by a system per unit time. In simpler terms, power can be viewed as energy output... capacity continued to rise sharply, surging 20.2% between 2016 and 2017. Growth was led by China and the United States, followed by Germany, which reported year-on-year growth of 12.7%. Installed capacityThe power generation capacity of a particular plant. It is usually expressed in megawatts (or sometimes even gigawatts)... also increased in India and Brazil.


Europe has an abundant supply of wind energyEnergy derived from the wind. Wind power involves converting the kinetic energy of moving air (wind) into electricity., with wind farms expanding rapidly in the United Kingdom (up 22.3%), particularly offshoreRefers to sea-based oil exploration and production operations, as in "offshore license" or "offshore drilling".. Boasting growth of more than 15% between 2016 and 2017, France now ranks fourth in Europe in terms of installed capacity and will enter the offshore market in 2018 with the construction of its first offshore wind farm.

 

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Global installed wind powerIn physics, power is the amount of energy supplied by a system per unit time. In simpler terms, power can be viewed as energy output... capacity has been rising steadily for 15 years. The European Union developed wind farms early on and is now the region with the highest installed capacityThe power generation capacity of a particular plant. It is usually expressed in megawatts (or sometimes even gigawatts)... worldwide (118 GW). Since 2004, wind power capacity in North America and Asia has been growing rapidly, ensuring that global wind power capacity is more evenly distributed among Europe, the United States and Asia.

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GeothermalDescribes the technology used to tap subsurface heat to produce energy... power is used in a small number of countries that have the right geological conditions. Active volcanic regions are particularly suitable, which is why France’s main geothermal resources are found in its overseas departments. The United States has almost 30% of global installed capacityThe power generation capacity of a particular plant. It is usually expressed in megawatts (or sometimes even gigawatts)..., followed by the Philippines and Indonesia.


Thanks to an active investment policy, Turkey has moved up to fourth place worldwide in just a few of years.

 

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BiomassIn the energy sector, biomass is defined as all organic matter of plant or animal origin... refers to any organic plant or animal matter that can be used to produce energy. Biomass breaks down into liquid, oil and solid, the latest being by far the oldest source of energy used by humankind. Primarily derived from wood in the form of logs, pellets and waste, solid biomass is used today to produce heatIn the field of statistical thermodynamics today, heat refers to the transfer of the thermal agitation of the particles making up matter... and electricityForm of energy resulting from the movement of charged particles (electrons) through a conductor.... Consumption of solid biomass rose moderately in Europe as a whole between 2012 and 2013, with a very noticeable increase of 12% in France. Public policy in France set ambitious targets for biomass in both industrial heating and domestic systems, which are expected to equip nine million households in 2020 versus nearly seven million in 2014.

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The production of electricityForm of energy resulting from the movement of charged particles (electrons) through a conductor... from solid biomassIn the energy sector, biomass is defined as all organic matter of plant or animal origin... rose by only 1.78% in Europe between 2012 and 2013. The United Kingdom, however, recorded a very strong 51% increase, moving ahead of Sweden and Poland and almost catching up with heavyweights Germany and Finland.  Solid biomass – primarily wood logs, pellets and waste – is traded within the European Union or with the United States, Canada and Russia.

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Household, industrial and agricultural waste can be transformed into biogasA product of the methanation (anaerobic digestion) of organic waste... (essentially methane (ch4)The main component of natural gas deposits and oil deposit gas caps. Methane is produced naturally by landfills...) by breaking down the organic matter through a process known as methanization.  Biogas can be used to produce electricityForm of energy resulting from the movement of charged particles (electrons) through a conductor... and heatIn the field of statistical thermodynamics today, heat refers to the transfer of the thermal agitation of the particles making up matter.... Once purified, it can also be injected into the natural gas distribution network. Germany, the United Kingdom and Italy are by far the largest producers of biogas in Europe. In 2013, Italy increased its production by more than 50% from the previous year.  France's output rose by more than 10% during the same period, on a par with the European Union as a whole.

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