What does the future of renewable energy look like?

Solar panels in front of wind turbines, both generating renewable energy

According to the IEA, renewable energy makes up around 26% of the world’s electricity and is expected to continue to grow. But what does the future of renewable energy look like?

What are our current renewable energy options?

Renewable energy has become more and more popular over the last few decades, with some forms becoming more prominent than others.


The most popular option for renewable energy at the minute is solar power. During this process, photovoltaic cells capture sunlight and turn it into electricity. Solar panels will be placed on your roof and allowing you to generate your own electricity. You can even store any excess energy you generate in a battery to help reduce your reliance on the grid.


If you’ve visited the seaside recently, you’ve probably spotted wind turbines too. In 2022, Britain’s wind farms generated 26% of our electricity. This was the second biggest source of electricity for the UK, just behind gas which contributed to 38%.


The UK has been generating electricity through water since 1879 when a hydroelectric generator was used to power a single incandescent lamp. Today, the UK’s hydropower capacity sits at just over 4,700 MW, with most facilities based in mountain areas in Wales and Northwest Scotland. With this method of power generation, the flow of water through rivers, dams and streams is used to generate electricity.

A hydropower dam generating renewable energy
Solar panels in front of wind turbines in a field

What does the future of renewable energy look like?

If we’re looking to become completely reliant on renewable energy options, we’ll need to focus more on different sources. Everything from wave power to solar power from space is currently being investigated to help us determine the best way to reduce the amount of fossil fuels we’re using.

Wave power

One of the newest forms of renewable energy beginning to make its mark is wave power. This type of electricity generation occurs using the up and down motion that ocean waves produce. There will be floating turbines placed in oceans that will rise and fall with the moves of the ocean. The first wave power generator was based in Portugal. This produces 2.25 megawatts from three tubes that float along the surface of the Atlantic Ocean near the coast of Agucadoura.


There’s also the possibility of utilising geothermal energy as a more prominent source of renewable energy. Power is generated from heat energy from the earth. Geothermal resources are reservoirs of hot water. These are either naturally existing or manmade. This hot water rises to the surface using heating and cooling and then forms electricity. Geothermal energy is a source of low carbon renewable energy throughout the UK but only delivers less than 0.3% of our annual heat demand.

Solar from space

One of the latest developments in solar technology is the development of satellites that can convert sunlight into power. A project by the European Space Agency (ESA) is looking into the possibility of using this type of energy can contribute to whether we can reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. The prototype devices are based on the same technology used to make night vision googles and can currently only generate a few milliwatts of power. However, the devices are expected to be “10,000 times more powerful”.

Can we ever fully rely on renewable energy?

In short, yes. Researchers have concluded that the world can reach a 100% renewable energy system by or before 2050. But how can we do it? The more we begin to generate renewable energy through systems such as solar panels and wind turbines, the less we’ll need to use fossil fuels. With the increased amount of research around existing renewable energy sources and newer forms, the future of renewable energy will continue to grow.

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