Georg Foltin

 Literature Review Renewable Energy


Renewable energy is derived from natural sources like sunlight, wind, geothermal heat, rain, tides, and is unlimited (Hook 55). The 2007 Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) report shows that 19 percent of the global energy is derived from renewable energy sources. Studies show that renewable energy is quickly taking over technologies such as electricity generation (Martinot 28). Currently, renewable energy constitutes a greater percentage of the global energy generation because wind, sunlight, geothermal heat, and water are used to generate electricity or power (International Energy Agency). Renewable energy is sufficient to meet the global energy demand if fully harnessed.

First, renewable energy can be sufficiently used in power generation for both domestic and industrial use. Secondly, renewable energy can provide sufficient energy for transport fuel as this is another sector with increasing demand for energy. Thirdly, renewable energy is a major source for heating water for domestic and industrial purposes. Energy is mostly transmitted in form of fuel, electricity and heat and these are the most important aspects of human life. Therefore, energy is a necessity for the survival of humans. “An efficient energy supply system is one which guarantees sustainability in energy production, supply and distribution” (Nilsson and Varnas 6).

Renewable sources of energy are more effective in this since it ensures that the energy source does not become extinct and therefore energy shortages are not experienced. This is mostly useful in the rural areas endowed with natural resources for energy production but which lack the capital to tap this energy. It is important for the energy supply department in any country to identify such potential areas and make investments in these projects. This will not only benefit the occupants of the region, but the country as a whole. The purpose of this literature review is to provide information concerning renewable energy in the above context. This research will utilize data from academic journals, online information reporting on renewable energies and books that discuss on the subject. Primary sources will be adequately used in order to discover the latest developments in renewable energy research.

Literature Review

The world focuses on further harnessing of renewable energy because of its ability to be replenished (Duchane and Brown 13). According to the International Energy Agency (IEA) 2006 report, 19 percent of the global energy is derived from renewable sources. Renewable energy sources are derived from natural processes and are constantly replenished through natural processes. These are energies harnessed from the sun, wind, water, tidal waves, biomass and geothermal sources (Martinot 28).

Electricity and heat can be generated from wind, tides, solar, biomass, hydropower, biomass, and geothermal power, all of which are replenished (Duke and Brown 13; Martinot 27). According to the OECD report published in 2007, renewable energies constitute 18 percent of the energy used in power or electricity generation. Wind power is also shown to produce a reasonable amount of electric power in places where harnessed (Guo 8). Bio-fuels are shown to be reliable in the production of transport fuel. The world always faces shortages in the oil industry and this problem can be amicably solved if ways of harnessing bio-fuels for transport are studied. Solar can be used in heating water for use at home or hotels. This provides a cheaper alternative to mechanically produced electricity (Klaassen and Riahi 815).

Martinot (26) stipulates that renewable energy markets accelerate while renewable energy policies multiply around the world. The purpose of Mariton’s (26) research is to show the importance of renewable energy in realization of environmental benefits. Mariton’s article is an analysis of literature that has been obtained from primary reports on renewable energy such as the Renewables Global Status Report. The article contributes greatly to this research by revealing the various kinds of renewable energy, their costs trends, extent of use, and their technological use in generation of power (Martinot 34). These are solar power, geothermal power, hydropower, and bio-fuel. On the other hand, Martinot (28) believes that as much as renewable energy promise sufficiency in energy and that it is solution to the cornet environmental problems, the world still lags behind in policies and documentation that concern the use of renewable energy.

From the Stockholm Environment Institute project report, the energy department plays a major role in the reduction of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. In fact, poor energy policies that advocate the use of fossil fuels are to be blamed for these emissions. Apart from this, the energy department is also faced with the challenge of ensuring a consistent energy supply in an environment that is facing the risk of oil extinction. This report goes further to explain the increasing dependency on external energy in Europe. Statistics obtained from this research indicates that this has risen by more than twenty-two percent in the last ten years increasing the level of imports by ten percent, from 44 to 54 percent (Nilsson and Varnas 10). This trend is expected to move even higher if nothing is done to come up with the local energy generation systems, which should focus more on the eco-friendly renewable resources.

Ramachandra, et al. (207) agrees that energy plays a vital role in the human society. The demand for energy is increasing at both domestic and industrial levels. The purpose of the article is to explain the design and implementation of decision support system (DSS) that the authors believe would be of assistance in estimating the potentiality of solar energy as per the climatic zones in the world regions. The rationale behind the study by Ramachandra, et al. (208) is that there is an increasing demand for energy use yet the depleting fossil fuel energy is not sufficient to meet this rising demand. The authors therefore stipulate that there is much potential in one of the renewable energy sources-solar energy-and thus there should be increased ways in which it can be tapped and used. The study is also similar to that of Martinot (26) and Hook (54-56) through pointing out that the use of renewable energy will aid in sustaining the environment. The problem of global warming because of carbon emission is a major issue in the global political agenda.

Maxwell (162) discusses the concept of renewable energy from a practical perspective in which architectural works consume 50 percent of energy for residential and non-residential buildings in the U.S alone. Maxwell’s (162) article is useful in that it provides an outline in which energy use can be determined in other sectors. If all the sectors are aware of the amount of energy use, then efforts to invest further in renewable energy will be enhanced (Ferrey 68).

The Greenpeace briefing, a European Union publication by the International Energy Agency predicts a movement of energy production towards 100% renewability by 2050. This idea originated from research done on the climatic changes, which revealed that the world’s natural environment is moving towards extinction. This means that the energy sources obtained from such sources will too reach a point of extermination. Such sources include fossil fuels, coal and oil deposits. This calls for the need to switch to the production and distribution of renewable energy sources from the wind, solar and water. On making this discovery, Europe laid down a green energy strategy aimed at ensuring that energy is conserved and utilized in a way that it can be recycled. This strategy was to be implemented under the supervision of the Greenpeace movement and the European Renewable Energy Council (EREC) with a time constraint of forty years. The major objective here is to ensure that the European energy sources are self-sustaining and that there is guaranteed energy supply security. This project is also supposed to ensure a “reduction in Carbon emissions and to safe guard the economy from the effects of rising energy prices” (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development 2).

According to this energy revolution project, the emission of dangerous gases should be reduced by ninety five percent by the year 2050. This vision was brought forth by the climate experts with an aim of avoiding or reducing the climatic change impacts. They argue that the use of renewable energy reduces the risks encountered when using nuclear electricity, which has been the most commonly used in the recent past. “This is to be replaced by an elastic combination of the cost-effective renewable sources of electricity, fuel and heat” (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development 3). Renewable energy production should be able to cover ninety-two percent of Europe’s total energy production and ninety seven percent of electricity production by 2050. In order to achieve this, there is need to have in place extensive energy saving strategies by use of energy recycling technology, reducing fuel consumption for public transport systems and shifting cargo transportation from the roads to rail which is considered more fuel effective.

This investment in green energy is expected to push the cost of obtaining electricity up in the short run. “In the long run however, it is expected to save € 2.65 trillions in the cost of fuel. This is an indication of absolute energy security, a revolution aimed at positioning Europe at a place of global competitive advantage on matters concerning technology and environmental conservation. The annual cost of supplying electricity is expected to reduce by € 85 billion including the investment cost. This will save the entire European economy an average of € 19 billion annually” (Painuly and Fenhann 4).

Apart from ensuring sustainable energy, adopting renewable energy sources also leads to creation of more job opportunities. In the case of Europe for example, these projects are expected to create hundred of thousands additional jobs. Research on the current trends forecasts that more than 940,000 additional jobs will have been created by 2020 especially in the power industries producing renewable energy. This number is expected to rise further to 1.2 million by 2030. This will therefore compensate the jobs losses incurred after shutting down the fossil fuel industries, which at the moment contributes up to three quarters of the major sources of energy supply. For this to be replaced by the renewable energy, the large-scale and cost-effective technologies should be put in place. This requires a timely and balanced recruitment of the public and private investors in to the project (International Energy Agency 6).

The importance of renewable energy in sustaining the environment is interestingly described by Agence France-Presse (433-434). The article talks about a 6-square km Masdar City in the United Arab Emirates, which exists entirely on renewable energy sources. The plan is to uses solar power for most of the energy provision because the sun is located in a sun-drenched region. The air conditioners installed in buildings are also run on natural sources such as wind; water is tapped from a desalination plant while all the wastes are recycled. The city is expected to have a population of around 50, 000 people. This is an interesting perspective or renewable energy use as the use is integrated for an entire city whereas in the other articles, prevailing uses concern individual homes or work sectors. This article is a revelation on the possibilities of renewable energy tapping and usage and it enhances the findings of the study by Ramachandra, et al. (209). The studies show that further studies can focus in studying the climatic zones of the world and suggest the best kind on renewable energy that can be utilized in every particular region.

If renewable energy can be tapped to meet sufficiently the requirements of a whole town, then the renewable energy is surely set to transform human activities, as Aitken (1) argues. Most human activities require the use of energy and this is even advancing with modernization and technological advancement. Man not only requires energy to generate electric power, but also to open doors, shift elevators, and provides thermoregulation in buildings. With the increase and diversity of such activities, it is important to invest in energies that can be replenished (Kancs 32).

Duchane and Brown (13-19) provide an overview of the world’s largest energy sources and energy resources used in energy generation. The article reveals that non-renewable sources are quickly depleting. Fortunately, technology advancement has enhanced the perspective of energy generation. Most industries near hot water bodies are developing geothermal plants that can harness steam and use it for the generation of geothermal power. Geothermal power can be used in generation of power or electricity sources that are used in homes of in the industries.

From the studies, it is seen that renewable energy sources can be utilized in almost all aspects of man’s activities. However, the use seems to be minimal and the world faces many costs and danger of depletion with non-renewable sources. Further research should focus on strategies that energy industries can use to harness optimally the renewable sources in all the regions of the world.

According to Painuly and Fenhann (1), the growth and development of any economy is highly dependent on energy. Most of the world’s supplies of commercial energy are obtained from fossil fuel, which causes many environmental problems globally through the emissions. A projection made over the next forty years indicates a gradual increase in demands for energy with the developing countries being the most affected by this trend. The greatest fear is that the available energy sources might fail to reach the level of sustainability because of the difficulty encountered in production and processing. Therefore, Painuly and Fenhann suggest that efficiency in energy utilization should be pursued in order to achieve a moderated growth in the sources of energy. “There should also be a motivation of creating environmental friendly energy sources to reduce the undesirable environmental consequences of poor energy use” (Painuly and Fenhann 2).

Generation of renewable energy is one of the prospective measures of meeting these challenges of maintaining sustainable sources of energy and providing energy in an environment friendly manner. This is the most promising option of replacing the traditional sources of energy in the third world countries, which are the most affected by the constraints of future energy availability. There is need to make investments towards modern energy production technologies since this is more effective and feasible compared to the traditional sources. It is also economic friendly owing to the fact that the modern energy sources are renewable.


All the studies show similarity in agreeing with that energy consumption in the world is vital and on the increase. Simply put, it is hard for man to survive without energy. However, the common sources of energy that are usually non-renewable, for instance fossil fuels are in danger of depletion. Moreover, fossil fuel is associated with the current environmental problem-global warming. This shows that if man does not invest in other sources of energy, it will be difficult to survive. Fortunately, there is an increase focus on renewable energy which can be naturally replenished as well as meet all the needs of man concerning power generation, heating and generation of transport fuel. Most of the studies show the importance of renewable energy in various sectors. However, further research should now focus on various ways of tapping the different sources of renewable energy-sun, wind, geothermal heat, water and tides-in different environments. Renewable energy is sufficient to meet all the needs of man without causing detrimental harm to the environment.






Works Cited:

Agence France-Presse. We built this city on renewable energy. “American Metrological Society.” 2008: 433-434. Print.

Aitken, Donald. Transitioning to a renewable energy future, Mexico: International Solar Energy Society, 2010. Print.

Duchane, Dave & Brown, Don. “Hot Dry Rock (HDR) Geothermal energy research and  development at Fenton Hill, New Mexico.” Geo-Heat Centre Quarterly Bulletin 23.4 (1902):13–19. Print.

Ferrey, Steven. “The failure of international global warming regulation to promote needed renewable energy.” Boston College Environmental Affairs Law Review, 37.1 (2010): 67-126. Print.

Guo, Q. C. “The time to speed up wind power development.” Energy Environ, 1 (2005):8-10. Print.

Hook, D.S. “Reason to believe (power renewable energy).” Engineering and Technology, 3.13 (2007): 54-56. Print.

International Energy Agency (IEA). Renewables in Global Energy Supply: An IEA Fact Sheet. Paris: International Energy Agency, 2003. Print.

Kancs, D’artis. “Applied general equilibrium analysis of renewable energy policies.”          International Journal of Sustainable Energy, 26.1 (2007): 31-50. Print.

Klaassen, G. and Riahi, K. “Internalizing externalities of electricity generation: an analysis            with MESSAGE-MACRO.” Energy policy, 35.2 (1996): 815-827. Print.

Martinot, Eric. “Renewable energy gains momentum.” Environment, 48.6 (2006): 26-43. Print.

Maxwell, Lawrence. “Sustainable design and renewable energy concepts in practice.”        Sustainability, 2009: 162-172. Print.

Nilsson, Mans & Annika, Varnas. A European Eco – Efficient Economy, StockHolm Environment Institute project report. Edinburgh: The Council of the European Union, 2009. Print.

Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. World Energy Outlook 2006. Washington: OECD, 2006. Print.

Painuly, Prasad & Villy Fenhann. Implementation of Renewable Energy Technologies – Opportunities and Barriers. Denmark: UNEP Collaborating Centre on Energy and Environment, 2002. Print.

Ramachandra, T.V., Jha, Rajeev, Krishna, Vamsee, and Shruthi, B., V. “Solar energy decision support system.” International Journal of Sustainable Energy, 24.4 (2005): 207-224. Print.

Su, Ming-Shan, Deng, Jing & Zhao, Chun-Rong. “Interaction of renewable energy policy and CO2 emission control policy: Case study.” Journal of Energy Engineering, 134.2 (2008): 63. Print.


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