More and more governments are recognising the
importance of promoting sustainable development and combating climate change when
setting out their energy policies. Higher energy use has contributed to higher
greenhouse gas emissions and higher concentration of these gases in the atmosphere.
One way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is to replace energy from fossil fuels by
energy from renewables.
The table refers to the contribution of renewables
to total primary energy supply (TPES) in OECD countries. Renewables include the
primary energy equivalent of hydro (excluding pumped storage), geothermal, solar,
wind, tide and wave. It also includes energy derived from solid biofuels, biogasoline,
biodiesels, other liquid biofuels, biogases, and the renewable fraction of municipal
waste. Biofuels are defined as fuels derived directly or indirectly from biomass
(material obtained from living or recently living organisms). Included here are wood,
vegetal waste (including wood waste and crops used for energy production), ethanol,
animal materials/wastes and sulphite lyes. Municipal waste comprises wastes produced
by the residential, commercial and public service sectors that are collected by local
authorities for disposal in a central location for the production of heat and/or
Biofuels and waste data are often based on small
sample surveys or other incomplete information. Thus, the data give only a broad
impression of developments and are not strictly comparable between countries. In some
cases, complete categories of vegetal fuel are omitted due to lack of information.
In OECD countries, total renewables supply grew
by 2.4% per annum between 1971 and 2010 as compared to 1.2% per annum for total
primary energy supply. Annual growth for hydro (1.1%) was lower than for other
renewables such as geothermal (5.3%) and biofuels and waste (2.9%). Due to a very
low base in 1971, solar and wind experienced the most rapid growth in OECD member
countries, especially where government policies have stimulated expansion of these
For the OECD as a whole, the contribution of
renewables to energy supply increased from 4.8% in 1971 to 7.6% in 2010. The
contribution of renewables varied greatly by country. On the high end, renewables
represented 85% of energy supply in Iceland, 39% in New Zealand and 37% in Norway.
On the low end, renewables contributed 3% or less of the energy supply for Japan,
Korea, Luxembourg and the United Kingdom.
In general, the contribution of renewables to
the energy supply in non-OECD countries is higher than in OECD countries. In 2009,
renewables contributed 46% to the energy supply of Brazil, 34% in Indonesia, 26%
in India, 12% in China, 10% in South Africa and 3% in the Russian Federation.