The world currently relies heavily on coal, oil, and natural gas for its energy. Fossil fuels are non-renewable, that is, they draw on finite resources that will eventually dwindle, becoming too expensive or too environmentally damaging to retrieve. In contrast, the many types of renewable energy resources-such as wind and solar energy-are constantly replenished and will never run out.
Most renewable energy comes either directly or indirectly from the sun. The sun’s heat also drives the winds, whose energy, is captured with wind turbines. Renewable energy can also be produced from hydroelectric power, biomass, hydrogen, geothermal energy and ocean energy.
In April 2009, the Council of the European Union adopted a directive setting a common EU framework for the promotion of energy from renewable sources (Directive 2009/28/EC). The aim of this legislative act is to achieve by 2020 a 20% share of energy from renewable sources in the EU’s final consumption of energy and a 10% share of energy from renewable sources in each member state’s transport energy consumption.
According to the new proposal renewable energy will play a key role in the transition towards a competitive, secure and sustainable energy system. The Commission proposes an objective of increasing the share of renewable energy to at least 27% of the EU’s energy consumption by 2030.
“Smart grid” generally refers to a class of technology people are using to bring utility electricity delivery systems into the 21st century, using computer-based remote control and automation. These systems are made possible by two-way communication technology and computer processing that has been used for decades in other industries. They are beginning to be used on electricity networks, from the power plants and wind farms all the way to the consumers of electricity in homes and businesses. They offer many benefits to utilities and consumers – mostly seen in big improvements in energy efficiency on the electricity grid and in the energy users’ homes and offices.