Renewable energy spans
a rather broad remit, including: solar thermal and solar photovoltaics,
on- and off-shore wind turbines, hydro, wave, geothermal, and biofuels.
Electricity generated from most sources of renewable energy are
essentially free of harmful greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and avoid
the geopolitical risks associated with fossil fuels. For solar
photovoltaics and wind power, questions surround the
intermittency/availability of generation and the integration of these
systems into electricity grids.
One of the major
research since the inception of The Open University has centred round
renewable energy technologies. The distinctive approach of the OU to
research has included examining the contentious claims for 'sustainable
biofuels', especially regarding GHG emissions due to indirect land-use
change, as a basis for EU and national mandatory emissions reduction
targets. The OU is significantly involved with local utility companies
in research surrounding the adoption and integration of renewable
energy technologies into smart-grids. Such smart-grids will distribute
electricity in the cities of tomorrow.