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Hydropower most widely used renewable energy source worldwide, survey shows

Image credit: pa

Hydropower is the most widely used renewable energy source worldwide, according to analysis of Energy Information Administration data performed by RS Components.

As a result of global warming, depleting fossil fuel stocks and volatile oil prices, countries around the world are focusing on developing their renewable energy strategies in a drive for a global clean energy transition. Producing renewable energy is now more critical than ever and all types are increasing exponentially in market share as the costs of production decrease.

The benefits of using renewable energy are potentially life-changing for the world's population and include reductions in air and water pollution, damage to public health, wildlife and habitat loss, and global-warming emissions. Since most renewables don’t require water for cooling, they significantly reduce the water requirements for power production compared to fossil-fuelled power plants.

Taking data compiled by the Energy Information Administration in the US, which looked at hundreds of countries around the world, RS Components determined that hydropower is the most widely used renewable power source worldwide, with geothermal power the least popular among producers.

When it comes to the most popular sources of renewable energy, hydropower is revealed as the most-favoured option by a wide margin, with 122 of the countries analysed generating most of their renewable energy from this source. China is currently the leading country for hydropower generated, at 1145.5 billion kWH, significantly above Canada and Brazil who are the second and third largest producers with 388.6 billion kWH and 367.2 billion kWH respectively.

China’s huge hydropower production abilities do not come as a surprise, with the country also home to the world’s largest hydroelectric gravity dam, the Three Gorges Dam, and as a whole producing over a quarter of the world’s installed capacity.

Of the six different energy sources analysed (hydropower, solar, wind, biomass, geothermal, other), China is the top-producing country for four of them (hydropower, solar, wind and biomass), as the graphic below shows.

In terms of geothermal power, the US leads the way, producing 15.9 billion kWH, with geothermal power plants present in seven states in 2019, despite hydropower being the country’s main renewable source overall.

However, with the 2015 Paris Agreement seeing countries pledge to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, and further commitments from other countries including the UK’s new plans to power all UK homes via offshore wind power by 2030, there will be a significant increase in energy created by renewable energy sources over the coming years, as countries worldwide develop their renewable sources further.

The full source data for this study, taken from the US Energy Information Administration, has been made available online by RS Components.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson outlined yesterday how the nation should “build back greener” by quadrupling offshore wind energy capacity as a way to recover from the economic damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The UK is currently the world leader in offshore wind capacity and costs have been plummeting in recent years, so is well-positioned to take advantage of the technology.

Johnson said that the £160m investment could mean that "in 10 years’ time offshore wind will be powering every home in the country, with our target rising from 30GW to 40GW”, and that the UK would become to offshore wind what Saudi Arabia is to oil.

renewable energy worldwide infographic - inline

Image credit: RS Components

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