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Questions about renewable energy?

You’ve come to the right place. Scroll down this page to find basic information and charts about renewable energy and see how it compares to conventional energy.

Some handy terms to remember:

Primary energy: Energy (electricity) supplied to the nationwide electric grid by energy producers. Usually measured in KiloWatts (KW), MegaWatts (MW), GigaWatts (GW) or TeraWatts (TW).

Secondary energy: Energy (fuel) delivered to retail outlets or directly to the customer that is used to power transportation, such as cars and trucks, aircraft, ships, rockets, you name it. If it moves, it uses fuel.

LCOE: The Levelized Cost of Energy is the per unit energy cost in order for the energy producer to break-even which is often expressed in cents per kilowatt hour (kWh). The LCOE applies to all kinds and types of energy as each has (1) a cost attached to build the power plant and (2) an expected lifetime.

For a hypothetical example of an LCOE equation, the company that owns a small hydro-electric power dam that cost $1 billion to build will need to sell its entire electricity output to a utility company for $40 per MW for 50-years to hit break-even on their investment. The corresponding LCOE price to the consumer might be 10-cents per kWh.

But when there’s a drought, that hydro-electric dam won’t be selling any electricity as it can only generate electricity when the reservoir is better than half full.

For another example of an LCOE, the company that owns a solar array that cost $500 million to build will need to sell its entire electricity output to a utility company for $30 per MW for 50 years to hit break-even on their investment. The corresponding LCOE price to the consumer in this case might be 6-cents per KWh.

But when the Sun goes down, that solar array won’t be selling any electricity as it can only capture solar energy during the daytime.


This graphic shows how much energy is available on planet Earth from all known sources — both renewable energy and non-renewable energy

Planetary energy reserves. Image courtesy of Perez and Perez.
Planetary energy reserves. Image courtesy of Perez and Perez.

Here’s how many people are employed in the solar industry compared to the fossil fuel, wind and nuclear electricity generation industries in the U.S (2016)

More Workers in Solar than Fossil Fuel Power GenerationExcerpt from Statista.com | “Renewable energy has made impressive strides in the U.S. in recent years. According to a new report from the U.S. Department of Energy, solar power employs more people than electricity generation through coal, oil and gas combined. Last year, solar power accounted for 43 percent of the Electric Power Generation sector’s workforce while fossil fuels combined employed 22 percent.

The statistic will be welcomed with open arms by those trying to refute Donald Trump’s assertion that renewable energy projects are bad news for the U.S. economy. Around 374,000 people were employed in solar energy, according to the report while generation through fossil fuels had a workforce of just over 187,000. The solar boom can be attributed to construction work associated with expanding generation capacity.

The report states that the employment gap is actually growing with net coal generation decreasing 53 percent over the last 10 years. During the same period of time, electricity generation through gas expanded 33 percent while solar went up by an impressive 5,000 percent.” — Niall McCarthy (Statista.com)


Here’s How Many People Are Employed in Renewable Energy Worldwide (2017)

The renewable energy industry employs 10.3 million people worldwide, according to new data from the International Renewable Energy Agency.
The renewable energy industry employs 10.3 million people worldwide, according to new data from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA)

Excerpt from IRENA | “The industry created more than 500 000 new jobs globally in 2017, with the total number of people employed in renewables (including large hydropower) surpassing 10 million for the first time.

Renewable Energy and Jobs, presents the status of employment, both by technology and in selected countries, over the past year. Jobs in the sector (including large hydropower) increased 5.3% in 2017, for a total of 10.3 million people employed worldwide, according to this fifth edition in the series.

China, Brazil, the United States, India, Germany and Japan have remained the world’s biggest renewable energy employers, representing more than 70% of such jobs. While growing numbers of countries reap socio-economic benefits from renewables, the bulk of manufacturing still takes place in relatively few countries. Four-fifths of all renewable energy jobs in 2017 were in Asia, the report finds.

Among the various technologies based on renewables, the solar photovoltaic (PV) industry supports the most jobs. PV jobs increased almost 9% to reach 3.4 million around the world in 2017, reflecting the year’s record 94 gigawatts of PV installation.

Jobs in the global wind power industry contracted slightly to 1.15 million. Europe still accounts for five of the world’s top ten countries for installed wind power capacity.” — IRENA


This graphic shows global subsidies for fossil fuel vs. renewable energy (2018)

Global subsidies for fossil fuels and renewable energy
Fossil fuels contribute both electricity and transportation fuel to the global energy mix, that is why *Oil* and *Gas* used for transportation are listed separately from *Fossil fuel electricity* as these fuels receive differing subsidies depending how it is used. For example: Diesel fuel can be burned to power cars and trucks and some aircraft (transportation fuel) or diesel fuel can be burned to produce electricity (a power plant) or diesel fuel can be burned to produce heat for your home (home heating oil) Each use has a different subsidy regime attached to it.

The Solutions Project: 100% Renewable Energy by 2050

The Solutions Project interactive renewable energy map
Click the image to visit The Solutions Project interactive map to see how your country or major city could benefit from a switch to 100% renewable energy by the year 2050.

Excerpt from TheSolutionsProject.org | “Right now, everything in our lives could be powered by clean, renewable energy. From our homes and smartphones to the electricity running our local grocery stores, clean energy is not only possible – it’s already happening. Solutions Project accelerates the transition to 100% clean energy by championing a movement that is more inclusive, more collaborative, and more celebratory. Through storytelling, grantmaking, and capacity building, we honor clean energy leaders, invest in promising solutions, and build relationships between unlikely allies.

Together, we can make renewable energy a reality for everyone – 100% for 100%.” — TheSolutionsProject.org


Late-Breaking News: International Energy Agency Report Finds Bioenergy Poised For Massive Growth 2018-2023

Click to read the late-breaking IEA Renewable Energy report -- Renewables 2018
Click to read the late-breaking IEA Renewable Energy report executive summaryRenewables 2018

Excerpt from IEA Report 2018 | “Modern bioenergy is the overlooked giant within renewable energy. Modern bioenergy (excluding the traditional use of biomass) was responsible for half of all renewable energy consumed in 2017 – it provided four times the contribution of solar photovoltaic (PV) and wind combined. Most modern bioenergy is used in final energy consumption to deliver heat in buildings and for industry.

Bioenergy is the largest source of growth in renewable consumption over the period 2018 to 2023. Bioenergy – as solid, liquid or gaseous fuels – will account for 30% of the growth in renewable consumption in this period. This is a result of the considerable use of bioenergy in heat and transport. Other renewables have less penetration in these two sectors, which account for 80% of total final energy consumption.

In 2023, bioenergy will remain the predominant source of renewable energy, although its share of total renewable energy declines from 50%, in 2017, to 46% as the expansion of both solar PV and wind accelerates in the electricity sector.” — IEA


Late-Breaking Bioenergy Video Produced by the IEA