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In 2003, renewable energy supplied some 18% of global electricity production. Renewable electricity capacity worldwide is estimated at 880 GW (or 160 GW, excluding large hydro). Hydropower supplies the vast majority of renewable energy, generating 16% of world electricity. Biomass supplies an additional 1%. Power generation from geothermal, solar and wind energy combined accounts for 0.7%.

The share of renewable energy in electricity generation is highest in Canada and Latin America, because of the predominant use of hydropower (Table 5.1). The use of geothermal electricity generation explains the rather high non-hydro renewable share in Mexico and other Asia. This share is also relatively high in OECD Europe, at nearly 4%. At the global level, Latin America, China and the OECD countries account for nearly 80% of global hydropower production. The United States and OECD Europe account for nearly 70% of global non-hydro generation.

Growth in hydropower and geothermal electricity production slowed considerably in the 1980s and 1990s (Table 5.2). These more mature renewable technologies did not receive the strong government support that targeted new renewables in the 1990s. Albeit from a low base, the use of solar, wind and biomass energy for electricity generation has grown considerably over the past two decades. Energy production from solar and wind grew by about 22% per year from 1989 to 2000, and the pace has accelerated in the last few years. Hydropower is still the primary source of renewable energy-based generation, supplying 2,645 TWh of generation in 2003. This compares with some 200 TWh for bioenergy, 54 TWh for geothermal and 69 TWh for solar and wind combined.

The largest hydropower producers are Canada, China, Brazil, the United States, and Russia. More than half the world's small hydropower (categorized as from 10 to 30 MW) capacity is in China, where nearly 4 GW were added in 2004. At least 24 countries have geothermal electric capacity, and more than 1 GW of geothermal power was added between 2000 and 2004, mostly in France, Iceland, Indonesia, Kenya, Mexico, the Philippines, and Russia. Most of the current capacity is in Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, the United States, the Philippines, and Indonesia. The use of renewables other than hydropower and geothermal for power generation has considerable potential, but will require public support and private investment to accelerate commercial use.

Table 5.1 Share of renewable energy in electricity generations, 2003

Renewable energy Non-hydro renewable Share in global use of non-hydro share in domestic energy share in domestic Share in global use of hydro renewable energy for electricity electricity generation electricity generation for electricity generation generation

OECD

United States

9.3%

2.4%

10.5%

30.2%

Canada

59.2%

1.7%

12.8%

3.1%

Mexico

13.1%

4.0%

0.8%

2.7%

OECD Europe

17.5%

3.6%

17.6%

37.0%

Japan

11.2%

2.1%

3.6%

6.8%

Korea

2.0%

0.6%

0.2%

0.6%

Australia

8.0%

0.9%

0.6%

0.7%

Transition economies

Former Soviet Union

16.7%

0.2%

8.4%

0.8%

Non-OECD Europe

24.4%

0.1%

1.7%

0.0%

Developing countries

Africa

17.1%

0.3%

3.2%

0.5%

China

15.0%

0.1%

10.7%

0.8%

India

12.8%

0.9%

2.8%

1.7%

Other Asia

18.3%

3.2%

5.0%

8.6%

Latin America

70.9%

2.6%

21.4%

6.6%

Middle East

2.9%

0.0%

0.6%

0.0%

World

17.8%

1.9%

100.0%

100.0%

Table 5.2 Global electricity generation from renewables (average annual growth rates) (Source: IEA [1]; IEA [2])

1971-1988

1989a-2000

2000-2003

Renewables

3.4%

2.4%

1.0%

Hydro

3.3%

2.2%

0.3%

Geothermalb

11.4%

3.9%

1.2%

Biomass

4.0%

3.5%

5.9%

Wind/Solar=

4.9%

21.8%

24.8%

aThere is a break in IEA data for biomass in 1988, necessitating the period breakdown bThe IEA Geothermal Implementing Agreement reports growth of 6.1% per year from 1995 to 2000 and 3.2% per year from 2000 to 2004 cWind and solar are not shown separately in IEA statistics aThere is a break in IEA data for biomass in 1988, necessitating the period breakdown bThe IEA Geothermal Implementing Agreement reports growth of 6.1% per year from 1995 to 2000 and 3.2% per year from 2000 to 2004 cWind and solar are not shown separately in IEA statistics

Electricity production from biomass is steadily expanding in Europe, mainly in Austria, Finland, Germany, and the United Kingdom. Cogeneration of wood residues in the pulp and paper industry accounts for the majority of bioelectricity in OECD Europe, followed by generation from the biodegradable portion of municipal solid waste (MSW). The use of sugar cane residues for power production is significant in countries with a large sugar industry, including Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, India, the Philippines, and Thailand. Increasing numbers of small-scale biomass gasifiers are finding applications in rural areas and there are projects demonstrating the use of biomass gasification in high-efficiency combined-cycle power plants in several IEA countries.

Spain, Portugal, Germany, India, the United States, and Italy have led recent growth in wind power. In Denmark, wind turbines supply about 20% of electricity, a portion expected to increase to 25% by 2009. Global wind power capacity was 47 GW at the end of 2004, up from 39 GW in 2003. Wind power from offshore turbines is being developed or is under consideration in the United Kingdom, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, and the United States.

Grid-connected solar photovoltaic (PV) installations are concentrated largely in three countries: Japan, Germany, and the United States. The solar thermal power market has remained relatively stagnant since the early 1990s, when 350 MW was constructed in California. Recently, commercial plans in Spain and the United States have led to a resurgence of technology and investment. Projects are also underway in Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Italy, Mexico, and Morocco. Ocean technologies are still in the demonstration stage, with a few projects mainly in Europe and Canada.

The greater use of renewable energy is a key component of government strategies to enhance energy diversity and security, as well as to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Because biomass absorbs CO2 as it grows, the full biopower cycle (growing biomass, converting it to electricity and then regrowing it) can result in very low CO2 emissions.

By using residues, biopower systems can even represent a net sink for GHG emissions by avoiding the methane emissions that would result from the land filling of unused biomass. A typical geothermal power plant emits 1% of the sulphur dioxide, less than 1% of the NO, and 5% of the CO2 emitted by a coal-fired plant of equal size. A 1-MW hydro plant, producing 6,000 MWh in a typical year, is estimated to avoid the emission of 4,000 tonnes of CO2 and 275 tonnes of SO2, compared with a coal-fired power plant.

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Solar Panel Basics

Solar Panel Basics

Global warming is a huge problem which will significantly affect every country in the world. Many people all over the world are trying to do whatever they can to help combat the effects of global warming. One of the ways that people can fight global warming is to reduce their dependence on non-renewable energy sources like oil and petroleum based products.

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