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Renewable energies are at the heart of the climate and sustainable development issues that the world has become aware of. This conviction is particularly strong because of the war in Ukraine and the energy crisis. What is renewable energy? What are the sources of production? What are the trends in the sector? Is it better to invest in Neoen shares or in McPhy shares? Discover our analysis!

What is renewable energy?

Renewable energy is energy that comes from sources that nature continually renews, as opposed to non-renewable energy whose stocks are depleted. Known as “clean energy” or “green energy”, their exploitation generates very little waste and polluting emissions but their energy power is generally much lower than that of non-renewable energy.

What are the useful sources for producing renewable energy?

Solar energy

Solar energy is an energy source that, as its name suggests, depends on the sun. This energy makes it possible to produce electricity from solar panels or solar thermal power plants, thanks to the sunlight captured by photovoltaic cells that transform it into electrical current.

Wind power

Wind energy is an energy source that depends on the wind. The sun heats the Earth unevenly, creating zones of different temperatures and atmospheric pressure around the globe. These pressure differences create air movements, more commonly known as “winds”. This energy is used to generate electricity in wind turbines – also known as wind generators – by using the force of the wind to drive the rotor blades that move an alternator.

Hydrogen

Hydrogen is receiving special attention because it can be used as a raw material, fuel, or for energy storage. It has many possible applications in industry, transportation, and buildings. More importantly, it produces no CO2 emissions and almost no air pollution when used. It thus offers a solution for decarbonizing industrial processes and transportation. As an example, Airbus recently unveiled its hydrogen aircraft project.

Hydraulics

Hydraulic energy allows the production of electricity, in hydroelectric power plants, thanks to the force of water. This force depends either on the height of the waterfall (high or medium head plants) or on the flow of rivers (run-of-river plants).

Biomass

Biomass energy is the most ancient form of energy used by man since the discovery of fire in prehistoric times. This energy is used to produce electricity thanks to the heat released by the combustion of these materials (wood, plants, agricultural waste, organic household waste) or the biogas produced by the fermentation of these materials, in power plants.

At the heart of climate issues and the protection of the planet, the renewable energy production market is very attractive and dynamic with large public and private investments.

Solar technologies are becoming increasingly competitive

 

Given the decrease in its costs, and the possibility to consider a diffuse production, close to the places of consumption, the international investments will focus on this energy, which will become the most used at the world level in the energy mix, to the detriment of coal and gas, whose decline is engaged. In particular, solar energy will be able to rely on mini-grids: small local electricity production units that are independent of other electricity networks.

Offshore wind power holds great promise

At sea, on the seabed, or floating, a wind turbine benefits from more frequent, stronger, and more regular winds than on land. Its power is thus increased tenfold. France seems to be well placed in this field: the country has the second-largest offshore wind energy deposit in Europe. Offshore wind power has a bright future ahead of it and has ambitious goals. The aim is to reach an installed capacity of 2.4 GW of offshore wind power in 2023 and around 5 GW in 2028 (according to Le Parisien).

Self-consumption

The French electricity model, which is extremely centralized, is changing as renewable energies emerge. This is particularly the case with solar thermal and/or photovoltaic energy, which allows for the development of self-consumption, i.e. the use of one’s own production: the French government regularly offers investment aid to encourage these initiatives, such as installation bonuses.

Energy investments on the rise in developing countries

Developed countries have long been the leaders in terms of investment in renewable energy and the trend has reversed since 2015. Now, developing countries concentrate more than 70% of investments dedicated to renewable energy, with the majority in China, India, and Brazil.

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