Renewable energy refers to the sources of energy that are continuously replenished naturally or artificially. Examples of renewable energy include solar, wind, biomass, geothermal, and hydrogen.
Compared with non-renewable options, these forms of energy are considered environmentally friendly because they do not add to the greenhouse gases that are believed to have a negative effect on the environment.
Solar energy is considered to be one of the best renewable energies because it can provide complete independence from non-renewable sources. An alternative option is wind power, which generates electricity using wind turbines. While solar panels are used in homes, large utility-scale wind turbines are used to generate electricity in a power grid.
In 2016, hydroelectric energy accounted for about 7% of the total renewable energy produced worldwide. The remaining 93% came from other sources such as biomass, solar, and geothermal which together contributed 17%. In 2015, global investment in renewable technologies continued its rapid rise.
It was reported that investors poured $286 billion into renewables, representing a 23% increase over 2014 and bringing the total to more than 2 trillion U.S. dollars of investment since 2004.
As of 2016, China led in terms of renewable energy investments with $ 102 Billion U.S. dollars, followed by Japan at $ 57 Billion.
The United States stood third in terms of investments with $ 44.1 Billion dollars.
Other countries that have invested heavily are UK at $ 22.8 Billion ; Germany at $ 17.4 Billion; India at 14,7 billion; South Korea at 12,7 billion; and Australia at 9,7 billion U.S. dollars.
Renewable energy is also considered to be the most cost-effective means of generating electricity. This has made it attractive to governments, which are in favor of projects that will result in low or no cost power supply.
A notable example is the price difference between solar and non-solar energy in Germany, which was reported to be lower by 40% to 50%.
This is expected to be the case with other areas that are investing heavily in renewables.
As of 2016, solar energy accounted for almost half of all renewable energy generated worldwide. Wind power accounted for 35%; biomass contributed 13%; geothermal was responsible for 3%, and hydroelectricity contributed 1%. The remaining 1% was from other sources.
Renewable energy has also become more affordable since it first began to be used. For example, solar power was once considered too expensive as an alternative source of energy, but now many countries are using it to provide electricity.
Renewable energy resources are available all over the world, allowing countries to source their energy needs from nearby sources rather than having to import expensive fuels.
They can also provide cost-effective power generation for isolated communities that are not connected to the national grid.