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120 ENGINEERING


US – accounting for nearly 70% of global growth. The potential of wave power is huge too. The World Energy Council estimates that 2,000 terawatts could be harvested each year from the world’s oceans (more than enough to meet current annual demands). Environmental impacts are fewer and construction costs lower. As energy companies


concentrate more of their resources on renewables then large scale plants will come online, aided by the industry’s thrust of making national grids, homes and businesses more energy- efficient, with added


burning solid and liquid biofuels and renewable fraction from municipal waste – biomass) alongside geothermal energy plants, are among the largest growth markets in the 34 OECD countries. First generation biofuels are limited by their impact on food supplies and biodiversity, but second generation – like grass or jatropha and industry waste (woodchips, fruit pulp or skin) – may unlock more carbon neutral fuel. Geothermal plants on the other hand rely on effective siting where the earth’s crust is naturally


thin. Deep drilling has risks – an estimated 20% failure rate – but the potential of geothermal lies in its lack of fuel costs. The US sits


THE WORLD ENERGY COUNCIL ESTIMATES THAT 2,000 TERAWATTS COULD BE HARVESTED EACH YEAR FROM THE WORLD’S OCEANS


microgeneration from solar or wind sources. If estimates of 1.3% of world energy powered by renewables in 2010 is correct, the


atop world production with 3,000 megawatts in 2010 (still only 0.3% of total national supply). Possibly the most


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important renewable resource is solar power because of its constancy. Mass-produced solar panels provide photovoltaic electricity and mirroring technologies can be used to create concentrated solar power, with energy stored in molten salts (as in Spain’s 50 megawatt Andasol plant). Wind (or tidal) and wave


next 50 years will see massive growth in diverse generation technologies.


power follow solar power in importance as low carbon renewables. In 2010, BP calculated that renewable power generation grew by 15.5%, driven by wind energy from China and the


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