Renewable energies represent a broad and diverse array of energy resources- biomass, hydro, geothermal, wind, solar and ocean energy- as well as range of conversion processes and application such as combustion, thermal, mechanical, photovoltaic processes, etc. Apart from obvious emission control advantages, renewable energy technologies can also make a significant contribution to domestic energy security and spur economic development (Sawin, Adib & Chawla 2012).
The year 2011 saw the reorientation of future energy policy in many countries in the wake of the tragic nuclear disaster in Fukushima, Japan. Despite the economic uncertainty of the present, global investment in renewable power and fuel has increased by 17% and renewable energy continues to grow strongly in all the end use sectors- power, heating, cooling, and transports.
Renewable energy support policies continue to be a driving force behind the increasing shares of renewable energy. As many as 118 countries, more than half of which are developing countries, have had renewable energy targets in place by early 2012, and 109 countries have had policies to support renewable in the power sector.
A main driver propelling policy forward is the potential of renewable energy to create jobs. Globally, an estimated 5 million people work directly or indirectly with renewable energy industries. More and more governments around the world acknowledge the benefits of renewable energy along with energy efficiency as central elements of any green energy economy strategy (Sawin et al. 2012, 37-39).
Renewable forms of energy are also increasingly viewed as critical for providing access to energy, particularly in rural areas of the developing world. Renewable energy is now seen as a viable option for providing millions of people with a better quality of life. Although there is a long way to go to provide energy for all, today more people than ever before derive energy from renewables as capacity continues to grow, prices continue to fall, and shares of global energy from renewables continue to increase (Sawin et al. 2012, 37-39).