Sunlight is our largest clean energy source for heat or electricity. Solar energy technologies include both solar thermal electricity and solar photovoltaics. The focus of the JRC’s work is to:
- promote a fair and transparent EU market for photovoltaics and support innovative technological solutions,
- assess the development of industry and market, and the contribution of the sector to achieving the EU targets for renewable energy
Bioenergy and biofuels
Bioenergy is seen as an important contributor to meeting the targets set by the Renewable Energy Directive (20% share of renewable energy over total EU consumption by 2020), and therefore complementary to other low carbon energy alternatives. The European Commission has also proposed that 10% of the transport sector’s final energy consumption in 2020 should come from renewable energy sources. Biofuels are expected to play an important role to achieve this target.
Wind energy technologies use the energy in wind for practical purposes such as generating electricity, charging batteries, pumping water, and grinding grain. Wind energy is a result of the sun’s uneven heating of the atmosphere, the earth’s irregular surfaces (mountains and valleys), and the planet’s revolution around the sun, which all combine to create wind.
Many technologies have been developed to take advantage of geothermal energy—the heat from the earth. This heat can be drawn from several sources: hot water or steam reservoirs deep in the earth that are accessed by drilling; geothermal reservoirs located near the earth’s surface and the shallow ground near the Earth’s surface that maintains a relatively constant temperature of 10°–15°C.
Oceans cover more than 70% of the Earth’s surface. As the world’s largest solar collectors, oceans contain thermal energy from the sun and produce mechanical energy from tides and waves. Even though the sun affects all ocean activity, the gravitational pull of the moon primarily drives tides, and wind powers ocean waves.