This article analyzes the future of renewable energy. Looking to the future, renewables are expected to be the fastest growing category of energy through 2035 as global efforts gain momentum. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, in its Annual Energy Outlook 2011, renewable electricity generation is expected to grow by 72%, raising its share of total power generation from 11% in 2009 to 14% in 2035. The strongest sources of growth will be wind and biomass, while solar remains the perennial dark horse with tremendous but unproven potential. Renewables could also see breakthroughs ahead based on advances in nanotechnology and its impact on materials science and engineering. To overcome the challenges to gaining real market share from legacy hydrocarbons, renewables must catch the wave of other trends shaping the global energy landscape, including materials engineering and business models that help to lower barriers and speed adoption.

For additional reading

1.
U.S. Energy Information Administration, International Energy Outlook
2011
, www.eia.gov/forecasts/ieo/.
2.
International Energy Agency, World Energy Outlook, www.iea.org/weo/.
3.
U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Renewable Energy Databook, www.nrel.gov/docs/fy10osti/48178.pdf.
4.
NREL Energy Analysis Center, www.nrel.gov/analysis/.
5.
U.S. Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (ARPA-E), arpa-e.energy.gov/.
6.
Technological Learning in the Energy Sector: Lessons for Policy, Industry, and Science
,
Martin
Junginger
,
Wilfried van
Sark
, and
André
Faaij
, eds.
Edward Elgar Publishing
2010
.
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