Power generated through renewable energy sources has expanded at a rapid rate over the last decade and continues to grow globally. What have been the reasons behind this spurt in activity? Professors Ashwini Chhatre and Brian Dill provide a historical overview and describe the dynamic set of global drivers that propel the expansion of renewable energy within the global discourse on sustainability. Introduction Electricity from renewable sources has become a dominant feature of contemporary debates on sustainability. Over the past decade, wind, solar, hydro, and geothermal power have experienced sustained growth, amidst greater recognition of their multiple benefits amongst international organizations, national leaders, and common citizens. Global installed capacity for power generation from renewable sources (excluding nuclear energy) at the end of 2010, for example, was around 1200 GigaWatts (GW), up from 700GW just ten years ago (Figure 1). The rate of growth in generating capacity from renewables is now nearly twice that from non-renewable sources (Figure 2). Although renewable power has not expanded evenly across the globe, the overall rate of growth and direction of change is clear (REN21).
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