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20 fascinating renewable energy facts to inspire you

13 January 2022 | Celia Topping

In the UK’s bid to be carbon neutral by 2050, renewable energy is centre stage. It’s clean, green, and harnesses natural sources. Solar power, wind power, geothermal power, hydro power, and tidal power can all help us tackle many of the world’s most pressing problems.

Renewable energy helps combat global warming, climate change, air pollution, and ocean acidity. It also helps us reduce our carbon footprints – and it even creates new jobs. 

Thankfully, these days, it’s becoming more and more popular – all over the world. 

Here are 20 facts that reveal the huge potential of renewables. And as we look to the future, they highlight just how much it’s developed and how powerful it can be, in shaping an energy system that’s fit for the 21st century. 

  1. Wind energy is the largest source of renewable power in the UK. There are almost 11,000 turbines on and offshore, generating nearly 66 million MWh of electricity a year. That’s the equivalent of powering over 18 million homes1!. 

  2. Coal only generates 29% of its original value in energy. But wind power generates 1,164% of its original value!

  3. According to Bloomberg, global investment in clean energy hit just over $500 billion in 2020, with an increase of 9% compared to 2019.

  4. Renewable energy creates more jobs for women. A recent report shows that women hold 32% of renewables jobs, compared to just 21% in fossil fuel roles. 

  5. Siemens built the first-ever commercial offshore wind turbine 30 years ago. Its blades were a modest 5 metres long, and it created just 30 kilowatts of power. But the latest model (since becoming Siemens Gamesa) is immense – with 108-metre-long blades, on a 222-meter diameter rotor. Just one turbine can generate enough electricity to power around 18,000 homes every year.

  6. Hydropower is the most widely-used renewable power source. It accounts for more than 54% of the global renewable power generation capacity, and 18% of the world’s total power generation. 

    hydro energy
  7. Costa Rica is a world leader in renewable energy. In 2017, this small Central American nation lasted 300 consecutive days on renewable energy alone.

  8. Switching to wind, water, and solar worldwide could eliminate 4 to 7 million deaths from air pollution every year.

  9.  Just to give you an idea of the tremendous potential of solar power – every hour, the sun beams enough solar energy onto Earth to keep everyone on our planet supplied with electricity for an entire year. Pretty incredible, eh?

  10. Between 2007 and 2017, the world's renewable electricity sourced from solar power increased a whopping 4,300%.

  11. Romans were the very first to use geothermal energy to heat their homes, building systems that encouraged warm air to move under floors and inside walls. 

  12. A world record was set in 1990, when a solar-powered aeroplane flew across the United States in stages, using no fuel at all.

  13. Renewable energy currently creates 5 times more jobs than fossil fuels. The number of renewable energy jobs grew from 1.7 million in 2004, to 10.3 million in 2017, and 11.5 million in 2019. This is according to the annual review from International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). switch to ovo energy

  14. Did you know that, way back in 1921, Albert Einstein was awarded the Nobel Prize for his discovery of the photoelectric effect? It’s what led to the invention of solar panels!

  15. The renewable energy industry is growing fast. By 2030, the global market is expected to be worth $1.9 billion!

  16. The Itaipu Dam in Paraguay creates 76% of the country’s electricity, and 17% of the electricity consumed in Brazil (displacing 67.5 million tonnes of CO2 every year). 

  17. Iceland is the only country in the world where renewable sources generate 100% of both its electricity and heat. 

  18. NASA has been developing space technology that could give the world’s population affordable green energy from an unlikely source – the moon! Their Watts on the Moon project is inviting ideas to solve the tasks of storage, sourcing and managing energy, all from our nearest neighbour.

  19. China built 100GW-worth of wind farms in 2020 – that’s more than the rest of the world built in 2019! These wind farms alone could generate enough power for almost 3 times the number of homes in the UK.

  20. All the world’s power could be generated by renewables by 2050 if the right political, financial, and societal decisions are made (and made fast!).

    renewable energy sources

What’s so cool about renewable energy?

  • It will never run out. Unlike fossil fuels, which are depleting our planet more each day, renewable energy is a never-ending supply. Because it’s created by natural resources like the sun, wind, and water, we’ll always be able to keep making energy. 
  • It protects the environment. There are no nasty carbon emissions produced by green energy. This means less air pollution and global warming. 
  • No water is used to generate wind and solar energy. Traditional electricity is generated by gas, coal or nuclear heating water to create steam to turn the turbines. This uses around 60,000 gallons of water per MWh of electricity. Wind and solar energy on the other hand use no water to generate electricity.  Hydropower relies on flowing or falling water of course, but it doesn’t need heat for power. 
  • It creates jobs. Renewable energy jobs are on the rise with a huge breadth of roles and career paths available. 

To find out much more about how renewable energy is shaping our future, take a look at our informative guides. 

Join OVO for a greener future

Just by joining OVO, you can play an important role in the UK’s journey to net zero. For a start, we’ll help you reduce your carbon footprint, by supplying you with 100% renewable electricity2.

And, in partnership with The Woodland Trust, we’ll also plant a carbon-munching tree in your name, every year you’re with us3. Plus, if you choose our even greener upgrade, OVO Beyond, you’ll get 100% carbon-neutral energy4 and 5 extra trees planted every year. 

If you don’t already have a smart meter, you can get one for free with our Home Energy Plans. A smart meter shows how much energy you’re using in real time – which can help you save energy at home. Smart meters play a big part in getting the UK ready for a future powered by renewables. 

Switching to OVO is easy – get a quote in seconds


Sources and references

1 https://www.renewableuk.com/

2 The renewable electricity we sell is backed by renewable certificates (Renewable Energy Guarantee of Origin certificates (REGOs)). See here for details on REGO certificates and how these work.  A proportion of the electricity we sell is also purchased directly from renewable generators in the UK.

3 Each year, OVO plants 1 tree for every member in partnership with the Woodland Trust. Trees absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, so tree-planting helps to slow down climate change

4 Enjoy even greener energy with OVO Beyond in comparison with our standard OVO plans. In addition to 100% renewable electricity as available with our standard plans, OVO Beyond reduces your yearly carbon emissions from the energy used in your home that is supplied by OVO to net zero by providing 100% carbon-neutral gas (15% green gas and 85% offset) and offsetting all associated lifecycle carbon emissions involved in the production and consumption of your electricity & gas, you will also get 5 trees per year in UK schools and communities and other green benefits. The renewable electricity we sell is backed by renewable certificates (Renewable Energy Guarantee of Origin certificates (REGOs)). See here for details on Renewable Energy Guarantee of Origin certificates and how these work. The green gas we sell is backed via renewable certificates (Renewable Gas Guarantees of Origin (RGGOs)). See here for details on Renewable Gas Guarantees of Origin and how these work. We offset the remaining emissions by supporting UN REDD+ carbon reduction projects that are certified to the Verified Carbon Standard or the Gold Standard. See here for more information on how we restore nature and protect rainforests with our offsetting programmes.