Renewable energy has been used by humans since the dawn of time. Generally speaking, renewable energy includes any form of perpetual, reusable energy–almost all of which comes from the sun’s energy.
Most of the world’s renewable electricity production is hydroelectric (16%), while so-called new-renewables provide another 3% but are growing rapidly.
Major sources of renewable energy include:
Of all the renewable energy sources, solar energy is the most abundant, and it provides the energy that drives most of the other renewable power sources. The Earth receives enough sunlight in just an hour that (assuming it could be harvested) could meet world energy needs for an entire year.
• Solar photovoltaics are the fastest growing renewable energy: Global capacity for renewable energy production is expanding rapidly. From the end of 2005 through 2010, global capacity grew at rates ranging from 15% to nearly 50% annually. Solar PV use increased fastest followed by biodiesel and wind energy. Wind power generation capacity is also growing at an astonishing 30% per year.
• Until recently, renewable energy sources were dominant energy sources: Before the industrial revolution, biomass (organic material made from plants and animal derived materials) fulfilled the majority of man’s energy requirements. It wasn’t until only 150 years ago that wood (a renewable form of biomass) was replaced by coal.
• Renewable energy is not subject to the same price shocks as fossil fuels: Renewables are generally distributed power generation, which means they aren’t controlled by a single country or group of countries. They also create a continuous flow of energy that remains consistent regardless of political issues.
• Renewable energy is by definition good for our environment: to qualify, a renewable energy must be a non-consumable resource in the sense that it continuously replenishes itself.
See also: Alternative to Solar Energy