Renewable energy is energy that comes from sources that replenish themselves over short periods of time. For the most part, renewable energy sources also provide clean energy, or energy that emits few greenhouse gases or pollutants. For this reason, many policy experts and scientists advocate renewable energy sources over traditional fossil fuels. The difficulty is achieving the technology, infrastructure, and political support to make this transition.
The five renewable energy sources highlighted in this map series are the five largest worldwide. Hydroelectric energy is by far the most prevalent, accounting for 83% of the world's electricity generation from renewable sources. This is most likely because the requisite technology to generate electricity by harnessing the flow of water has been around the longest, dating back to the early 20th century. Wind energy is the next largest, at just over 7% of the electricity generated from renewable sources, followed by biowaste and biomass energy (7%), geothermal energy (2%), and solar, tidal, and wave energy (less than 1%).
This map series shows electricity generation from renewable energy sources in billion kilowatt-hours. The first map shows each country's total electricity generation from all renewable energy sources averaged over the years 2006-2010. The following maps show the same figure broken down by renewable energy type. The data come from the United States Energy Information Administration.
Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry advocate Verb
to argue in favor of something.
Earth's fifth-largest continental landmass.
Encyclopedic Entry: Antarctica biofuel Noun
energy source derived directly from organic matter, such as plants.
biomass energy Noun
renewable energy derived from living or recently living organisms, mostly plants.
clean energy Noun
electrical energy that does not pollute the atmosphere, water, or earth.
fossil fuel Noun
coal, oil, or natural gas. Fossil fuels formed from the remains of ancient plants and animals.
geothermal energy Noun
heat energy generated within the Earth.
greenhouse gas Noun
gas in the atmosphere, such as carbon dioxide, methane, water vapor, and ozone, that absorbs solar heat reflected by the surface of the Earth, warming the atmosphere.
hydroelectric energy Noun
energy generated by moving water converted to electricity. Also known as hydroelectricity.
Encyclopedic Entry: hydroelectric energy infrastructure Noun
structures and facilities necessary for the functioning of a society, such as roads.
(kWh) unit of energy equal to 1,000 watt hours.
chemical or other substance that harms a natural resource.
power plant Noun
industrial facility for the generation of electric energy.
renewable energy Noun
energy obtained from sources that are virtually inexhaustible and replenish naturally over small time scales relative to the human life span.
resource base Noun
the available supply of goods, materials, or services in a specific place at a specific time.
Ring of Fire Noun
horseshoe-shaped string of volcanoes and earthquake sites around edges of the Pacific Ocean.
Encyclopedic Entry: Ring of Fire solar power Noun
rate of producing, transferring, or using solar energy.
tall grass native to North America.
tidal energy Noun
energy produced as ocean waters surge in and out with tides.
Encyclopedic Entry: tidal energy wave energy Noun
energy produced by ocean waves.
wind energy Noun
energy produced by the movement of air, and converted into electricity.
wind farm Noun
area with a large group of wind turbines, used to generate electric power.