Renewable energy is that which is produced from natural processes and whose replacement rate is higher than the rate of consumption. The most commonly used renewable energy sources are solar, wind, hydro, geothermal and biomass or bioenergy, while marine energy is still developing.

This type of energy has many benefits, among them: it helps diversify energy sources in electricity grids, reduces the dependency of fossil fuels, it is cleaner because less waste and emissions are generated during its generation, among others.

According to international organizations, although these kind of energy sources have grown 3% each year at a global level, reaching 19.5% in 1990, their share has declined in the last 10 years due to the increase of the global energy consumption, reaching 19.3%.

In this section information related to the development of renewable energies is displayed through studies, handbooks, manuals, scientific papers , presentations, maps as well as other kind of documents. The section is divided into 6 subcategories sccording to the different energy sources: Solar, Hydro, Wind, Geothermal,Marine and Bio-energy; and a General subcategory which considers nonspecific information related to renewable energies (not associates to a particular source).

A summary of the main renewable energy source characteristic is presented in the following table:

Table: Characteristics of Renewable Energy Sources (1)

Source of Energy Definition Plant Factor (2) Efficiency (3) Investment Costs

Operation and   Maintenance Costs

Average cost of energy
Solar Energy Energy from the electromagnetic radiation from the sun to generate electricity or heat 11-50% 6-65 % 1.500-10.000 USD / kW 35-150 USD/kWh 6-46 ¢USD/kWh
Hidropower Energy obtained from surface water flows to generate electricity 20-90% N/A

1050-8000 USD/kW

1-4% of the investment costs

0.02-0.27  USD/kWh

Wind Energy Energy from the wind to generate electricity 20-43% 90% 2.000-7.500 USD / kW 35-85                 USD / kWh 8-52  ¢USD/kWh
Bioenergy Energy from biomass, either to generate electricity, mechanical or thermal energy. 80-95% 15-85% 650-11.000  USD / kW 6-900                 USD / kWh 1-37   ¢USD/kWh
Geothermal Energy Energy generated from the heat contained within the earth to generate electricity or heat 30-90% 8-75% 1200-7800 USD / kW 0.04 - 1.4            USD/kWh

7-37  ¢USD/kWh

Marina Energy Energy from the sea, specifically the movement of large bodies of water to produce electricity 20-82% 16-85% 3000-13000 USD / kW

0.02-0.2      USD/kWh

23-60  ¢USD/kWh

(1) Renewable Energy Center, International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA)

(2) Plant factor is an indicator that compares how much energy generator produces a on the maximum that could generate at full capacity during the same period. Also known as load factor or capacity factor .

(3) The conversion efficiency corresponds to the ratio between the useful energy generated at a given time and the applied energy to generate heat energy.

N/A: Not Available


• International Energy Agency (IEA):

• International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA):

• Latin American Energy Organization (OLADE):

• National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL):