Renewable Energy Potential

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Although renewable energy technologies are unreliable for the world's present energy demand, the market is growing for many forms of renewable energy. Approximately 74,223 MW of power is generated from windmills worldwide. Several European countries and the United States produce the largest percentage of wind energy. Denmark is the world leader in this technology. The present worldwide manufacturing output of the photovol-taics (PV) industry is more than 2,000 MW per year. Japan, Germany, and the United States contribute 90 percent of all photovoltaic installations in the world. Solar energy use is also growing at a faster rate in developing countries, such as Kenya and India. Worldwide, approximately 8,000 MW capacity of geothermal power plants are in operation. A 750 MW geothermal power plant, The Geysers in California, is the largest in the world. Brazil has one of the largest renewable energy programs in the world. It produces ethanol (biofuel) from sugarcane, contributing 18 percent of the country's automotive fuel demand. Ethanol fuel is also widely available in the United States and many other countries. Most countries are mandating using more than 10 percent ethanol or other biofuel as a mixture with fossil fuel. Renewable energy production and its use is very popular in rural settings without grid-based electric supply. Thus, renewable energy is popular among both the poor and rich countries of the world.

According to IEA, the potential of bioenergy is 200-300 EJ/a (Exajoules per annum) compared with the current potential of 50 EJ/a. The potential is so high because of the abundant resource base in all countries. Bioenergy crops and municipal wastes would be better used for producing bioen-ergy. Theoretically, wind energy is capable of supplying a large percentage of global energy needs as wind is ample everywhere. However, the practical potential is limited due to cost, variability, inter-mittency, and siting factors. However, researchers believe that these concerns are exaggerated, and that contributions of more than 1,000 percent of total electricity supply are possible without compromising grid reliability. It is estimated that total long-term wind energy potential is five times total current energy production.

Solar energy potential is immense. In Europe, this growth is anticipated around 20 percent per year. China has the highest potential growth of solar

must be improved to be economically viable. Hydrogen energy potential is promising due to serious research and development programs.

In 1983, physicist Bernard Cohen proposed that uranium is effectively inexhaustible, and therefore, can be used as a renewable energy source. Cohen believed that fast breeder-reactors fueled by seawater-extracted uranium could produce and supply energy for billions of years. Nuclear fusion technology is in the development stage; it would be very efficient and have a large potential for long-term energy production. Nuclear fusion technology produces less nuclear waste and has less containment issue than nuclear fission technology.

sEE ALso: Alternative Energy, Ethanol; Alternative Energy, Overview; Alternative Energy, Solar; Alternative Energy, Wind; Nuclear Power.

BIBILIoGRApHY. CEN Energy Center, "Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels Creates Draft Principles for Stakeholder Discussion," (cited August 2007); B.L. Cohen, "Breeder Reactors: A Renewable Energy Source," American Journal of Physics (v.51/1, 1983); International Energy Agency, Renewable Energy into Mainstream (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2007); M.Z. Jacobson, Addressing Global Warming, Air Pollution Health Damage, and Long-term Energy Needs Simultaneously (Stanford University, 2006).

One of the most promising renewable energy technologies is wind energy, which uses airflows to run wind turbines.

One of the most promising renewable energy technologies is wind energy, which uses airflows to run wind turbines.


Gainesville State College energy production and use. Solar heating and drying potential worldwide is estimated to be 600-900 PJ. Some estmates suggest that the worldwide potential installation capacity of PV systems for grid purposes might be 4,001,000 MW by 2010. The potential for large hydropower plants are hampered by environmental concerns. However, there is tremendous potential for small hydropower plants. There are potential geothermal resources in more than 80 countries in the world. The potential energy from these is estimated at 600,000 EJ. Ocean energy systems offer the promise of low-cost reliable electricity, principally to coastal regions, but technology

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