Since the 1970s, the development and utilization of renewable energy has been highly valued by countries all over the world. Many countries regard the development and utilization of renewable energy as an important part of their energy strategy, and have set clear goals and formulated laws and preferential policies to encourage the development of renewable energy. Renewable energy has developed rapidly and has become the fastest growing field of all types of energy. In the past 10 years, photovoltaic power generation, wind power, etc. have maintained a relatively high growth rate, and the development and utilization of renewable energy has become a hot spot in the international energy field.
According to the latest global renewable energy status report released by RE21, by the end of 2016, the global installed capacity of renewable energy power generation reached 2017GW, accounting for 30% of the total global power generation installed capacity and 24.5% of the total power generation. In 2016, the newly installed capacity of global renewable energy power generation capacity was 161GW, an increase of 8.7% over 2015, a record high. Among them, the new installed capacity of solar power reached 71GW, while the new installed capacity of wind power was 51GW. This is the first time since 2013 that the new installed capacity of photovoltaic exceeds that of wind power. In addition, the newly installed capacity of hydropower is 30GW, the newly installed capacity of biomass power generation is 9GW (the highest in history), and the newly installed capacity of geothermal power generation is 780MW.
As far as the current situation is concerned, the top five countries with the largest renewable energy power generation capacity in the world are China, the United States, Brazil, Canada and Germany. If hydropower is not included, the countries with the largest installed capacity of renewable energy are China, the United States, Germany, Spain, Italy, and India.
The latest data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration show that in 2016, the newly installed grid-connected renewable energy capacity in the United States is expected to reach 24GW. This is the third consecutive year that the United States has realized that new grid-connected renewable energy accounts for more than half of the total new grid-connected power, especially wind power and solar power. According to statistics, nearly 60% of the newly added grid-connected renewable energy installed capacity was put into use in the fourth quarter of 2016. This is partly because the federal, state, or local government tax relief policies expired at the end of 2016.
Since the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, Japan has stepped up efforts to encourage companies to enter the field of renewable energy power generation in order to reduce dependence on nuclear power. To this end, the Japanese government has introduced a “renewable energy power purchase system”, which stipulates that the purchase price of solar power, wind power and geothermal power generation is 42 yen/(kW·h), 23.1 yen/(kW·h) and 27.3 yen/(kW·h) respectively, which is 2-4 times the price of thermal power or nuclear power. This pricing is higher than the cost of power generation, giving companies engaged in renewable energy development a greater profit margin. According to the plan of the Japanese government, by 2030, the proportion of renewable energy in primary energy will reach 25% to 35%.
Germany pursues a nuclear-abandonment policy. Germany’s solar photovoltaic industry started with the “Thousand Roofs Project” and by the end of 2004, the “100,000 rooftops” solar photovoltaics had been connected to the grid. In the past ten years, the German government has subsidized the solar photovoltaic industry more than 100 billion euros, creating Germany’s global leading position in the field of solar energy use. The German government uses energy taxes and other measures to provide generous subsidies to the solar, wind and biomass energy industries. At present, Germany’s renewable energy production has accounted for 1/4 of the total energy production. However, energy taxes have also led to a rise in German energy prices, and German electricity prices are now the highest in Europe. According to Germany’s 2014 Renewable Energy Reform Draft, the proportion of renewable energy will be increased to 40% to 45% by 2025, and to 55% to 60% by 2035. The development of the German solar energy industry attaches importance to technological innovation and uses technology to enhance overall competitiveness. The polycrystalline silicon solar cell developed by the Fraunhofer Solar Energy Research Institute in Germany broke the record of conversion efficiency. At the same time, its ultra-thin feature is also conducive to saving the amount of polycrystalline silicon. Germany is also actively participating in the promotion of space solar power technology and has been at the forefront of the field of solar power generation.
Denmark has proposed to completely get rid of fossil energy by 2050, relying on renewable energy, and has formulated a detailed implementation path. At present, renewable energy power generation (mainly wind power generation) has accounted for about 50% of the country’s electricity consumption. It is estimated that by 2030, its electricity supply will be completely free of fossil energy, heating will be all provided by renewable energy in 2035, and fossil energy will be completely eliminated in 2050.
It can be seen from the relevant research report provided by the International Energy Agency (IEA) that from 2000 to 2030, the proportion of renewable energy power generation in the total global power generation will continue to grow, and the growth rate will be faster and faster. At the same time, the International Energy Agency (IEA) also pointed out that in all renewable energy power generation from 2000 to 2030, except hydropower, the growth rate of power generation from other renewable energy sources will exceed that of thermal power generation. Approximately an average annual growth rate of 6% can be maintained. It is estimated that by 2030, the world’s renewable energy power generation except hydropower will reach 4.4% of the world’s total power generation. Among them, biomass power generation will be the most important source of renewable energy power generation, accounting for 80%.
In terms of the current global primary energy consumption structure, the proportion of renewable energy consumption is still at a very low level. There are two main reasons: one is that some countries have not paid enough attention to the use of renewable energy; the other is that the use of renewable energy has high technical content and high cost. However, with the continuous progress of science and technology, the cost of renewable energy utilization technology will continue to decline, and its competitiveness with traditional fossil energy will continue to increase. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), after 2030, traditional fossil energy consumption will gradually decline in the world’s energy structure. By 2050, renewable energy will account for about 50% of energy consumption.