Renewable energy is generally defined as energy that comes from resources which are naturally replenished on a human timescale such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, waves and geothermal heat. Renewable energy replaces conventional fuels in four distinct areas: electricity generation, hot water/space heating, motor fuels, and rural (off-grid) energy services.
Based on REN21’s 2014 report, renewables contributed 19 percent to our energy consumption and 22 percent to our electricity generation in 2012 and 2013, respectively. Both, modern renewables, such as hydro, wind, solar and biofuels, as well as traditional biomass, contributed in about equal parts to the global energy supply. Worldwide investments in renewable technologies amounted to more than US$ 214 billion in 2013, with countries like China and theUnited States heavily investing in wind, hydro, solar and biofuels.
Renewable energy resources exist over wide geographical areas, in contrast to other energy sources, which are concentrated in a limited number of countries. Rapid deployment of renewable energy and energy efficiency is resulting in significant energy security, climate change mitigation, and economic benefits. In international public opinion surveys there is strong support for promoting renewable sources such as solar power and wind power. At the national level, at least 30 nations around the world already have renewable energy contributing more than 20 percent of energy supply. National renewable energy markets are projected to continue to grow strongly in the coming decade and beyond.
While many renewable energy projects are large-scale, renewable technologies are also suited to rural and remote areas and developing countries, where energy is often crucial in human development. United Nations’ Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has said that renewable energy has the ability to lift the poorest nations to new levels of prosperity.