The Azimuth Project
Sustainable energy

Contents

Introduction

There are many forms of sustainable energy, also known as renewable energy.

REN21_renewable_energy

The above chart shows the contribution of various forms of renewable energy to worldwide energy consumption — not just electric power. It is taken from this report:

  • REN21, Renewables 2010 Global Status Report, page 15.

Quoting the report:

Renewable energy supplies 19 percent of global final energy consumption, counting traditional biomass, large hydropower, and “new” renewables (small hydro, modern biomass, wind, solar, geothermal, and biofuels). Of this 19 percent, traditional biomass, used primarily for cooking and heating, accounts for approximately 13 percent and is growing slowly or even declining in some regions as biomass is used more efficiently or is replaced by more modern energy forms. Hydropower represents 3.2 percent and is growing modestly but from a large base. Other renewables account for 2.6 percent and are growing very rapidly in developed countries and in some developing countries.

Renewable energy replaces conventional fuels in four distinct markets: power generation, hot water and space heating, transport fuels, and rural (off-grid) energy services. This section provides an overview of recent developments in the first three markets; rural energy is covered in Section 5 of the report.

Global renewable energy capacity grew at rates of 10–60 percent annually for many technologies during the five-year period from the end of 2004 through 2009. For many renewable technologies, such as wind power, growth accelerated in 2009 relative to the previous four years. More wind power capacity was added during 2009 than any other renewable technology. Grid-connected solar photovoltaic (PV), however, increased the fastest of all renewables technologies, with a 60-percent annual average growth rate for the five-year period. Biofuels also grew rapidly, at a 20-percent annual average rate for ethanol and a 51-percent annual average for biodiesel? (reflecting its lower production levels), although growth rates began declining later in the period. Other technologies—including hydropower, biomass power and heat, and geothermal power — are growing at more ordinary rates of 3–6 percent, making them comparable with global growth rates for fossil fuels (3–5 percent, although higher in some developing countries). In several countries, however, the growth in these other renewables technologies far exceeds the global average. (For a summary of the main renewable energy technologies and their characteristics and costs, see Table 1 on page 26.)

Calculating sustainability

There is one very simple framework of assessing the sustainability of energy sources, which was proposed by the japanese Dr Yoichi Kaya, expert in energy economics and has been verified.

There is a Kaya calculator online, created for the book by Jeffrey Archer, which is on our Recommended reading, which one can interact with.

Tester, Drake, Driscoll, Golay, Peters has extended the model further.

Wiki References

For more details, turn to our pages on specific forms of sustainable energy, including:

Also see:

External References

A comprehensive upper undergraduate or graduate level book, that works well as reference. It covers all important aspects on each sustainable energy; (re)sources, generation, storage, physical equations,economics, environmental impacts, status and future impact.

There is a project in Abu-Dhabi to construct a city with a complete self sustaining energy system, Masdar City.