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Clean & Renewable Energy

Last Updated: Nov 11, 2011

clean energy
 - Costa Rica

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)

Wind/wolar/biomass/geothermal             0.7%
Biofuels             0.6%
Biomass/solar/geothermal hot water/heating 1.4%
Hydropower 3.2%
Traditional biomass             13%
Total World Energy Supplied by Renewables             19%

Renewable Energy Over Time (in U.S. billions)

2007

2008

2009

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

Biofuels > 1,500,000
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)

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