The Evolution of Renewable Energy

Environmental Training Resource
April 18, 2013 — 1,188 views  
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Nonrenewable energy sources, like fossil fuels, depend on finite raw materials that will dwindle in just a course of time. It will then be too expensive and damaging to the earth's environment to retrieve the sources of energy. This is where alternative energy comes in. Renewable sources of energy, like solar and wind energy, are replenished regularly and will not ever run out.

The Renewable Energy Statistics in the United States

Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates that the total consumption of renewable energy has declined by 2.2% in 2012. This was because the reduction in hydropower was more than the increase in consumption of other forms of renewable energy. Hydropower production fell by 13% due to lower levels of water supply in Pacific Northwest areas. EIA has projected an increase in the consumption of renewable energy by 2.6% in 2013. Non-hydropower renewables should increase by 5.5% while hydropower reduces by 3.2%.

In 2014, total renewable growth is expected to continue at 4.5%, with increases in both hydropower and other renewables by 2.6% and 5.4% respectively. Wind capacity is expected to increase by 6% in 2013, and 14% in 2014. Due to this, wind-based electricity generation is also expected to increase by 16% in 2013. EIA predicts a robust growth of solar energy generation, which will make up a small share of the total.

Successful Examples Worldwide

There are some quite impressive stories of successful deployment of renewable energy projects across the world. In India, where almost 100,000 villages still have no electricity, a Bombay-based NGO called GSBF (Grameen Surya Bijlee Foundation) installed solar powered LED (Light Emitting Diode) lamps in about 300 homes. Normally in villages, kerosene is used for lighting as well as cooking. Kerosene is both expensive and extremely dangerous. In these conditions, the LED lighting offers a healthier, safer and inexpensive option. Other than the initial costs of $55 per unit, solar energy ensures free-of-charge lighting to help children to study, and elders to do their chores in a safe environment.

These lamps can be used to light one entire village using less electricity than a single 100W conventional light bulb. Similarly, LUTW (Light Up The World) foundation has installed solar-powered LED lighting in almost 100,000 homes across 27 countries. From 1993 to 1998, Austria achieved a significant 62% increase in the rate of biomass use for heat-production and district heating. Spain has also increased its reliance on photovoltaics (PV), placing it among the PV usage leaders in Europe. Spain, Italy, Germany, France, Ireland, Portugal, and Sweden are all leaning toward clean wind energy and have started producing it on a large scale. Austria has used solar energy for heating needs and has found that it is an important energy source in regions with less exposure to the sun. France has started using biomass to produce biodiesel which is used as fuel. Denmark, Spain, and Sweden have been utilizing it for the generation of power. African countries have also seen the widespread development of solar, wind, biomass, and geothermal energy as a capable replacement for fossil fuels, with successful projects like the solar water pump.

There are many such examples around the world showing how renewable energy has evolved over the years and is set to take over the reins of power from fossil fuels.

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