With a vital need for the world to review its method of electricity generation, the topic of renewable energy is high on the environmental agenda. Indeed, the last ten years has seen the issues of global warming and sustainability brought to the fore, with both businesses and the public now playing an active role in trying to find alternative ways of producing, and using energy.
Currently, much of the world's energy supply is produced by burning fossil fuels like oil, gas and coal. However, not only does this method emit a lot of carbon dioxide (CO2) which is harmful to the world's atmosphere, but resources are also finite, meaning they will eventually run out.
One of the biggest concerns scientists and environmentalists have is that of rapid climate change; and with temperatures increasing around the globe, the effects are already noticeable. For example, polar ice caps are melting and environmental habitats are changing.
Consequently, there has been a huge global drive to find alternative natural resources that can provide humans with the electricity and power they require, and which won't become depleted over time. An additional requisite of this task is to use natural, environmentally-friendly sources that won't harm the surrounding environment.
Due to the increased interest in the subject - coupled with rising oil prices - there are now numerous research projects and trials dedicated to finding the most cost-efficient and clean sources of energy. As a result, the energy from natural sources like sunlight, wind, rain and the tides is being harnessed to replace the more traditional methods of energy creation.
In fact, according to research, around 18 percent of the world's final energy consumption came from renewables in 2006. Thirteen percent of this was extracted from traditional biomass, like wood-burning, whilst hydroelectricity contributed towards 15 percent.
Wind power is also growing by 30 percent year on year, with European countries and the Unites States using it widely. In fact, as of 2008, global wind farm capacity reached 100,000 megawatts and produced 1.3 percent of the world's energy consumption. In the US alone, this provides enough energy for around five million households! Whilst in the UK, approximately three percent of all electricity comes from renewable energy resources. However, it is hoped that by 2010, 10 percent will be produced sustainably with this figure reaching 15 percent by 2015.
What's more, the major power companies in npower and Scottish Power have played a big part in the research of alternative energy sources, particularly as they seek more sustainable solutions to customers. It is believed that in the near future, the switch to using renewable energy will serve to improve the surrounding environment and make for a more positive future.
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