10 cool facts about renewable energy

By Rachel England Monday 15 April 2013

Sun, wind, sea, earth... no, it’s not the opening credits to 80s TV show Captain Planet (although the message is similar), it’s the four sources of renewable energy that are helping pave the way to a more sustainable way of living.

Solar power from the sun, energy from the wind, hydropower from waves and geothermal heat from the ground are all playing an increasingly important role in our energy mix, helping to negate the need for fossil fuels and reducing emissions pumped into the atmosphere by traditional sources of power.

Plus, as more and more people start harnessing their own renewable power through domestic solar panels, wind turbines and geothermal heat installations, they’re feeling the benefits through reduced energy bills and self-sufficiency, too.

The EU has set a target of 20% of all energy in Europe coming from renewable sources by 2020, and while some countries are doing better than others in meeting this goal, renewable energy is certainly on the agenda for all governments and will become progressively more prominent as energy concerns increase.

Here are ten cool facts you need to know.

  1. Despite all the technology surrounding renewable energy, it’s not a new invention. In 200 BC, people in China would use windmills to pump water and grind grain, and Romans were the first to use geothermal energy to heat houses.
  2. But we’re not quite there yet when it comes to making full use of renewable resources. Scientists reckon that if it were harnessed properly, all the sunlight that falls on the planet in just one hour could power the world’s energy demands for an entire year!
  3. One of the biggest complaints about solar power is that it only provides energy when the sun’s shining, but new developments mean that power from the sun’s rays can now be stored in a special salt and used at night. A power plant in Spain soaks up the sun during the day and by night pumps out seven hours of power to the surrounding area.
  4. The first ever commercial offshore wind turbine (located out to sea) was made by Siemens 30 years ago. Its blades were five metres long and it produced just 30 kilowatts of power. The company’s latest model has blades 75 metres long and produces six megawatts (25,000 times as much) – enough to power 6,000 homes.
  5. As technology evolves and the internet takes centre stage in all aspects of life, more and more energy is required to power data centres to feed our online habit. Companies such as Google, Apple and Facebook are helping to meet this demand by funding and developing massive solar farms, producing millions of clean kilowatts every year.
  6. A world record was set in 1990 when a solar-powered airplane flew across the United States in stages, using no fuel at all.
  7. Albert Einstein is well known for his work on relativity and gravity, but in 1921 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for his discovery of the photoelectric effect – which we have to thank for solar panels nowadays.
  8. The renewable energy industry was worth $257 billion in global investments in 2011 – 17% more than it was just one year before in 2010.
  9. While the United States is responsible for using the most renewable energy (24.7% of the world total), it’s actually smaller countries that top the charts for clean living. The Itaipu Dam in Paraguay, for example, provides 90% of the country’s electricity (and displaces 67.5 million tonnes of CO2 every year), while 100% of Iceland’s energy is supplied by geothermal and hydropower sources. The country has so much geothermal capacity that there are discussions about the feasibility of building an interconnector into the UK grid!
  10. According to the WWF, the whole world could get all the power it needs from renewable resources by 2050, ending our reliance on fossil fuels and other depleting resources, but only if the right political, financial and societal decisions are made, and quickly.

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1Monthly cost - Representative monthly direct debit costs based on a non-economy-7, dual-fuel, medium user (3100 kWhs elec. and 12500 kWhs gas) paying in advance by direct debit, including online discount.  All rates correct as of 15/1/2018, but may go up or down.

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3Pay Monthly Savings claims: Saving based on the estimated annual cost of OVO Two year fixed tariff for a non-economy-7, dual-fuel, medium user (3100 kWhs elec. and 12500 kWhs gas) paying monthly in advance by direct debit, including online discount. Comparisons made against the average of the Big 6 standard variable tariffs with equivalent features. All rates correct as of 15/1/2018.“The Big 6” are British Gas, Scottish Power, SSE, Npower, E.ON and EDF.

4Pay As You Go Savings are based on the average estimated annual costs for new PAYG OVO customers quoted through the OVO website (based on household and/or consumption information provided by those customers), compared to their current supplier and tariff. Comparisons taken between 01/01/2016 and 11/10/16. Incl VAT. Actual savings may vary according to your current supplier or tariff, individual tariff options, household information, consumption and location. 

We include almost twice as much renewable electricity as the national average: At least 33% of electricity in all of our tariffs comes from renewable sources. The national average, according to Ofgem as at March 2014 was 16.7%. For more information please visit this page.

33% of your electricity comes from renewable sources: 33% renewable electricity as standard as of 1st April 2015. Renewable electricity is generated from wind, solar, geothermal, wave, tidal, hydro, biomass, landfill gas, sewage treatment plant gas and biogas.

3% interest: Calculated at 3% per year for customers paying by advance direct debit.  The OVO Interest Reward is paid monthly based on   number of days in credit and the amount left in your account after you’ve paid your bill,  and the credit balance on which you can earn the OVO Interest Reward is capped. Terms apply:

95% of new customers save when switching to OVO: Savings based on the average estimated annual costs for all new OVO customers quoted through the OVO website, compared to their current supplier and tariff. Comparisons taken between 01/05/2016 and 11/10/16. Incl VAT.

94% of surveyed customers would recommend us: OVO conducted a survey of their customers in between 1st January 2016 and 15th April 2016. Out of 15,312 customers who responded, over 94% rated OVO 6+ when asked 'how likely would you be to recommend us to a friend and family, on a scale of 1 to 10.

Britain's top rated energy provider: Britain's top rated energy provider in the Which? 2015 satisfaction survey. Survey conducted in October 2015. Awarded in January 2016.

uSwitch's Energy Supplier of the Year: OVO energy was voted and awarded  'Energy Supplier of the year' and best for: Overall Customer Satisfaction, Most Likely to be Recommended, Value for Money, Best Deal for You, Customer Service, Billing Services, Energy Efficiency, Meter Services, Online Services, Green Services and Transfer Process. OVO Energy scored a 96% customer satisfaction score.

Which?: Achieved the highest score of 78% in the Which? Satisfaction Survey conducted in September and October 2016.

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