Clean & Renewable Energy
Last Updated: Nov 11, 2011
Clean energy, which combines sustainable and renewable energy sources, is generally defined as energy production that meets our current needs without compromising the ability of future generations to produce their own energy supply. Clean energy also incorporates new technologies that improve energy efficiency, reduce pollutants and cut consumption needs. Green energy, a sub-category of clean energy, is defined as energy that may be extracted or generated without any major environmental impact.
Traditional energy sources and fossil fuels, including petroleum, natural gas and coal, were used for generations, but these are non-renewable resources – once they run out, they will never again be available. Newer technologies, which harness the power of water (hydroelectric), heat (geothermal), wind (eolic) and the sun (solar) are both renewable and sustainable, making them clean energy sources.
In 2008, renewable energy accounted for 19% of all global energy consumption. In 2009, more than $150 billion was invested in renewable energy and clean power plants accounted for over half of the world's newly installed energy facilities. By 2010, more than 100 countries – almost double that of 2005 – had in place policies to target or promote clean energy. Clearly, the world is moving towards more sustainable and green energy sources.
Share of World Energy Consumption (2008)
|Biomass/solar/geothermal hot water/heating||1.4%|
|Total World Energy Supplied by Renewables||19%|
Renewable Energy Over Time (in U.S. billions)
|Investment in new renewable energy (annual)||$104||$130||$150|
|Renewables power capacity (including all hydro)||1,085||1,150||1230 GW|
|Hydropower capacity (existing, all sizes)||920||950||980 GW|
|Wind power capacity (existing)||94||121||159 GW|
|Solar PV capacity, grid-connected (existing)||7.6||13.5||21 GW|
|Solar hot water capacity (existing)||125||149||180 GW|
|Ethanol production (annual)||53||69||76 billion liters|
|Biodiesel production (annual)||10||15||17 billion liters|
Jobs From Renewable Energy
|Wind Power||> 500,000|
|Solar Hot Water||~ 300,000|
|Solar PV||~ 300,000|
|Solar Thermal Power||~ 2,000|
|Total Jobs||> 3,000,000|
Source: Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (REN21)