Some forms of renewable energy have long contributed to electricity generation, whereas others are just emerging. For example, large-scale hydropower is a mature technology generating about 16% of global electricity, and many smaller scale systems are also being installed worldwide. Future opportunities to improve the technology are limited but include upgrading of existing plants to gain greater performance efficiencies and reduced maintenance. Geothermal energy, widely used for power generation and direct heat applications, is also mature, but new technologies could improve plant designs, extend their lifetimes, and improve reliability. By contrast, ocean energy is an emerging renewable energy technology. Design, development, and testing of a myriad of devices remain mainly in the research and development stage, with many opportunities for materials science to improve design and performance, reduce costly maintenance procedures, and extend plant operating lifetimes under the harsh marine environment.
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