Even if you’re a climate change denier, the fact that the world needs to move away from fossil fuels and toward clean energy options shouldn’t be a matter of debate for you. Conventional energy sources like coal and oil are in limited supply and over-dependence on them can lead to major crises in the near future.
Thankfully, as these comprehensive renewable energy statistics show, there seems to be widespread agreement across the world on this matter, and even oil-rich countries are making efforts to increase the share of alternative sources in their overall energy production. These steps are all the more important when one considers the environmental impact of the continued use of carbon-producing fuel.
These statistics are meant to give readers a broad understanding of global renewable energy trends, while also answering common questions like, “What country generates almost all of its power from renewable sources?” The statistics are arranged in clear sections for easy reading. Beginning with some general data on renewable energy, we move on to current and projected statistics for the major forms of renewable energy. The last section takes a deeper look at regional statistics for a clearer idea of how energy-related dynamics are changing in the world’s major economies.
Top 7 Fascinating Facts To Remember
- Clean sources currently accounted for 24% and by 2023 they are expected to cover 30% of global electricity demand
- The top 10 countries that use green energy are: China, the US, Brazil, Germany, India, Canada, Japan, Italy, Spain, and France
- In 2017, global CO2 emissions increased by 1.6%
- In 2017, China accounted for 23.2% of global energy consumption and the consumption of renewable energy increased by 31% in the same year
- The EU’s energy consumption increased by 1.6% in 2017
- 6 of the world’s top 10 solar energy companies are located in China
- Over 50% of the world’s bioenergy is used for traditional cooking and heating
1. The world used 14,126 Mtoe of energy in 2017.
How much energy does the world use? This data is generally given in terms of Mtoe (the equivalent of millions of tons of oil) per year. The figure for 2017 was 14,126 Mtoe. One toe equals 41.868 gigajoules (or 41.868 x 109 joules). This means the world consumed 5.9 x 1020 J of energy in 2017.
2. The share of renewable power in global energy generation was 12.1% in 2017.
How much of the world’s energy is renewable? In 2017, this figure stood at 12.1% and is projected to continue growing at a very slow rate. This accounts for renewable energy consumption across different sectors, which include renewable electricity, heat from renewable electricity, heat from direct renewables, transport from renewable electricity, and transport from biofuels. How much renewable energy does the world use? Taking the above pieces of data into account, the figure for 2017 comes to 1,709 Mtoe. This share is expected to grow to only 12.4% by 2023.
3. The generating capacity (i.e. the maximum possible electrical output in ideal conditions) of renewable energy saw its highest ever annual increase in 2017.
Between 2016 and 2017, there was a 9% growth in the global generating capacity of renewable power. Solar accounted for 55% of renewable energy’s growth in terms of its newly installed capacity. More solar PV (photovoltaic) capacity was added than the net additions of fossil fuels and nuclear power combined. Wind (at 29%) and hydropower (11%) accounted for most of the remaining additions.
4. Renewables are expected to provide almost 30% of the global electricity demand by 2023.
The fastest growth in renewable energy is occurring in the electricity sector. What percent of the world’s power is generated from renewable sources? Clean sources already accounted for 24% of the global electricity consumption in 2017. Between 2017 and 2023, renewables are forecast to meet more than 70% of the global growth of electricity generation, led by solar PV and followed by wind, hydropower, and bioenergy.
5. By 2023, solar is expected to make up more than half of the 1 terawatt of additional renewable energy generation capacity.
As per the renewable energy world statistics from 2018, between 2018 and 2023, the renewable capacity is expected to grow by over 1 TW, a 46% growth over the entire period. Solar PV will account for more than half of this global expansion, driven by supportive government policies and market improvements. In addition, wind capacity is expected to expand by 60%, or 324 GW, with offshore wind accounting for 10% of that growth.
In an accelerated forecast, which illustrates how some market and policy enhancements could affect renewable deployment, the capacity growth of renewable energy worldwide by 2023 could be 25% higher than in this potentially conservative prediction. This would mean 1.3 TW, but it depends on how governments address certain policy, regulatory, and financial challenges by 2020.
6. The share of renewables in meeting global heat demand is expected to grow to 11.8% by 2023.
Renewable resources accounted for 10.3% of the total heat generation in the world in 2017. Between 2017 and 2023, a modest increase in the share of renewable heat is expected. However, any robust growth in the total heat demand is expected to result from continuous economic and population growth.
7. The share of renewables in transport is expected to grow to 3.8% by 2023.
What percentage of renewable energy is used in the world in the transport sector? According to 2017’s figures, the contribution of renewables in transport was very low, at 3.4%, and this share is expected to grow only minimally to 3.8% by 2023. Meanwhile, renewables are expected to expand by almost one-fifth over the forecast period. As we can see by these disparate figures, the demand for renewable energyin transport is likely to remain very low because of ongoing petroleum product consumption.
8. Coal accounted for 38.1% of the world’s power generation in 2017.
According to a comprehensive energy report by BP, coal continues to be the world’s dominant source of power, with its share almost equal to that of natural gas (23.2%) and hydroelectricity (15.9%) combined. Alternative fuel sources (excluding hydroelectric) accounted for 8.4% of the total power generated in 2017, rising 6.1 percentage points.
9. Coal’s share in global power generation went down 3.1 percentage points between 2007 and 2017.
Coal and nuclear are the two sources of power that saw the greatest decline in their share in worldwide electricity generation from 2007 to 2017 thanks to the move toward alternative fuels. Nuclear’s share has come down by 3.4 percentage points. The decline in coal’s share takes some sheen away when one realizes that its share in electricity generation in 2017 was exactly what it was in 1998. The slight reduction in recent years is simply a reversal of the drift up in the early 2000s due to China’s rapid expansion.
10. China ranks first in terms of installed green energy capacity worldwide.
As of 2017, China was the leading country in terms of its installed renewable energy capacity. Its total capacity of 618.8 GW is more than the combined capacity of the US (229.91 GW), Brazil (128.29 GW), Germany (113.06 GW), and India (106.28 GW), the next four countries in the list. The other countries that make up the top 10 are Canada, Japan, Italy, Spain, and France.
11. 68% of Denmark’s electricity comes from renewable sources.
What country has the largest share of renewable energy consumption? Based on the above data, Denmark is the world leader in terms of the share of electricity consumption that is provided by renewables. Additionally, Iceland is the world’s largest green energy producer per capita (55,000 kWh per person per year). Among the larger EU economies, the figures for the renewable energy percentage by country are 30% in Germany, 28% in the UK, 25% in Spain, and 23% in Italy.
12. The number of countries with renewable energy targets quadrupled between 2010 and 2017.
Setting targets is a key first step for countries wanting to deploy renewable energy sources in different sectors. Many countries have taken even stronger legislative steps to encourage the use of renewable energy. For example, there’s the Renewable Portfolio Standard, which is the current US renewable energy policy.
In 2010, 45 countries, mostly those in Europe, established a renewable energy target. By 2017, the number had almost quadrupled to 168, with the countries evenly spread across all regions, showing that the role of renewable energy in reducing carbon emissions among all energy sources has been widely recognized.
13. By 2018, no G20 country had committed to a 100% renewable energy target.
Can renewable energy power the world? Research suggests that converting the entire world to 100% renewable energy by 2030 is both possible and affordable, but doing so requires political support. It would require building many more wind turbines and solar power systems while also not utilizing bioenergy. Other changes involve the use of electric cars and the development of enhanced transmission grids and storage. By increasing the percentage of renewable energy in the world to as close to 100% as possible, we could eliminate the waste of $8 trillion—the amount we’re predicted to spend globally as we prolong the use of non-renewable resources over the next 25 years.
14. Emerging markets surpassed the developed world in onshore wind growth in 2013 and in solar PV growth in 2016.
This is one of the most interesting takeaways from the renewable energy facts and statistics collected by the consulting firm Deloitte. The solar and wind industries and markets started and matured in the developed world (defined as the 34 governments making up the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development), but their center of gravity has shifted to emerging markets (all undeveloped countries). In 2017, emerging markets accounted for 63% of the global new investment in sustainable energy and fuels, widening the investment gap with developed countries to a record high. Today, their cumulative capacity is close to surpassing that of the developed world.
15. Global carbon dioxide emissions increased by 1.6% in 2017.
Despite the increasing use of alternative sources of fuel, this news on greenhouse gas emissions isn’t very encouraging. The growth rate of CO2 emissions in 2017 was slightly higher than the 2006–2016 yearly average of 1.3%. According to clean energy statistics, the countries with the highest growth rates were Turkey (12.7%), Qatar (9.9%), Portugal (9.3%), the Philippines (7.7%), and Pakistan (7.4%). So while North America and South America managed to attain a negative growth, it was undone by the increase in other parts of the world.
United States Renewable Energy Statistics
16. Hydroelectricity accounts for 7% of the total electricity generation in the US.
Based on the latest EIA forecasts, by the end of 2019, wind generation is expected to surpass hydro. However, this currently makes hydroelectricity the renewable energy source with the largest contribution to the overall electricity generation in the country, according to the latest renewable energy report from the US Energy Information Administration.
17. Washington State gets 72% of its electricity from hydroelectric power.
Hydroelectricity represented the largest share of the electricity generated from renewable sources in 28 US states in 2007 but retained that status in only 19 states in 2017 as wind and solar became more common. Hydroelectricity was the most prevalent electricity source 6 states, based on annual data from 2017. According to the data on renewable energy by state, Washington had the largest hydroelectricity share at 72% of the state’s total generated electricity.
18. 36% of Kansas’s electricity generation came from wind power.
This is just marginally under the 38% share of coal in the overall electricity generation for 2017, making Kansas the state with the highest share of wind energy vis-à-vis other renewable and non-renewable sources. Interestingly, as renewable energy statistics from 2018 show, wind power had overtaken coal to become the largest source of electricity in Kansas in the first six months of the year. And, including Kansas, wind power was the second-largest electricity generation source in six states.
19. 26% of Maine’s electricity comes from biomass.
Biomass had the second-largest electricity generation share in three states in 2017, according to US renewable energy statistics. Those were Maine (26%), Vermont (21%), and Rhode Island (4%). In Maine and Vermont, the share of electricity generated by biomass trails only hydroelectricity, making them two of only three states where renewable fuels were both of the top two electricity sources. South Dakota, where hydroelectricity and wind were the most prevalent sources, is the third state.
20. In 2017, California had the highest solar energy percentage of generated electricity at 16%.
However, solar power was only the third-largest source of electricity in California, after natural gas (41%) and hydroelectricity (20%). Solar briefly surpassed hydroelectricity as California’s most common renewable electricity source in 2015, when drought conditions led to a particularly low year for hydroelectricity in the state. Solar was the second-largest power generation source in only one state: Nevada, where it accounted for 11% of the state’s generation, after natural gas (69%).
Hydroelectric Power Statistics
21. Hydropower accounts for 71% of all renewable electricity in the world.
Nearly three-quarters of the total renewable electricity generated today is dependent on our water resources. This equals 16% of the world’s total generated electricity. The total hydroelectric power generation in the world in 2017 equaled 918.6 Mtoe, of which 40.4% was accounted for by the Asia Pacific region. Interestingly, do you know which renewable energy source makes up the largest share of Iceland’s energy? The general perception seems to be geothermal energy, but it’s hydropower that accounts for more than 70% of the country’s energy consumption. Indeed, geothermal energy follows hydropower at about 27%.
22. China led the world in hydropower generation, with 261.5 Mtoe of energy in 2017.
Canada came second in the rankings, with 89.8 Mtoe hydropower generation in 2017, followed by Brazil at 83.6 Mtoe, according to renewable energy world statistics. Interestingly, Brazil gets over three-fourths of its electric power supply from hydroelectric power, with most of the hydroelectric potential available in the country’s northern Amazon river basin. Other countries with very high hydroelectric power generation are the US (67.1 Mtoe), Russia (41.5 Mtoe), Norway (32 Mtoe), and India (30.7 Mtoe).
23. By 2023, an additional 125 GW of hydroelectric power capacity is expected to be added globally.
Renewable energy statistics from 2017 show that the total installed capacity at the end of the year was a little over 1200 GW. Because China and Brazil in particular haven’t been developing as many large-scale projects, the annual net capacity growth has slowed in recent years. However, the cumulative capacity is still expected to increase by an additional 125 GW by 2023. China is likely to grow at a slower pace than it has in the past, but it should still account for over 40% of the net growth, followed by additions from other markets in Asia, Latin America, and Africa.
Solar Energy Statistics
24. By the end of 2017, the global solar power generating capacity reached nearly 400 GW.
The capacity addition in 2017 was a 32% increase over 2016, and it was driven by new installations totaling more than 97 GW during 2017. This also means that the world’s solar power capacity has nearly quadrupled in the 2012–2017 period. Utility-scale projects account for just over 60% of the total installed solar capacity, with the rest in distributed applications (residential, commercial, and off-grid).
25. The largest amount of solar power generating capacity in 2017 came from China (53 GW).
According to recent solar power statistics, China and the US (at 11 GW) together accounted for two-thirds of the world’s solar capacity growth. Japan provided the third-largest addition (7 GW). China also leads in terms of cumulative installed capacity (130 GW), holding one-third of the global total on its own. The US (51 GW) and Japan (49 GW) are in the second and third positions, with Germany (42 GW) now in fourth, according to the latest data on solar energy production by country.
26. Solar power generation saw a growth of 35% in 2017.
In 2017, the total worldwide solar PV power generation was 460 TWh. While the overall share solar power has in global power generation remains quite low at 1.7%, the share had doubled from 2014 to 2017. Solar is starting to have a noticeable impact as a source of power generation, contributing nearly 20% of the growth of global power in 2017.
27. An additional solar PV capacity of 580 GW is expected to come on board by 2023.
Over the next five years, solar PV is expected to lead renewable energy production capacity growth, expanding by almost 580 GW. The largest growth is expected from China, followed by other countries in the APAC region. The relatively lower intensity of sunlight in Europe and North America is partly responsible for the less substantial increase in solar PV power generation in these regions.
28. There’s now a solar alternative technology that produces power even in the absence of intense sunlight.
Concentrated solar power (CSP) devices concentrate energy from the sun’s rays to heat a receiver to high temperatures. This heat is then transformed into solar thermal electricity (STE). STE offers significant advantages over PV, mostly because of its built-in thermal storage capabilities. CSP plants can continue to produce electricity even when clouds block the sun, or after sundown or in the early morning when the power demand steps up. Both technologies, while being competitors on some projects, are ultimately complementary and can drive up the percentage of solar energy used in the world.
29. The CSP capacity is expected to double between 2016 and 2022 to reach 10 GW.
The deployment of CSP plants is at the stage of market introduction and expansion. In 2016, the installed capacity of CSP worldwide was 4.8 GW, compared to 300 GW of solar PV capacity. CSP capacity is expected to double by 2022 and reach 10 GW. Almost all of this new capacity will include storage, thus adding significantly to the percent of solar energy used in the world. CSP with storage will increase an energy system’s flexibility, facilitating the integration of various renewable technologies such as solar PV and wind.
30. The rate of solar thermal installations slowed by 9% in 2017.
Solar thermal technologies can produce heat for hot water, space heating, and industrial processes, with systems ranging from the small residential to the large community or industrial scale. According to the most recent renewable energy statistics, the cumulative capacity of solar thermal installations reached an estimated 472 GWth by the end of 2017. However, the market continued to slow in 2017 for the fourth year in a row, as the total annual installations decreased by 9%, owing mainly to a continual slowdown in China.
31. Solar thermal heat consumption is expected to grow by over a third between 2017 and 2022.
According to solar energy consumption statistics, solar thermal heat consumption is expected to grow by over one-third by 2022, with installations in the buildings sector driving most of the increase. In the growing global market, there’s also a huge potential for solar energy use throughout the world for cooling systems. By the end of 2015, an estimated 1,350 solar cooling systems were in operation globally.
Wind Energy Statistics
32. The global wind power generating capacity grew by 10% in 2017.
The worldwide total wind power generation capacity reached 515 GW by the end of 2017, marking an increase of 47 GW from 2016. The figure was under 100 GW in 2007, which means there’s been more than a five-fold increase in wind power generation capacity in this 10-year period. 497 GW of the wind generation capacity in 2017 is onshore while the remaining is offshore.
33. China recorded the largest addition of new wind capacity in 2017.
According to data on countries by their renewable energy percentage, with its 15 GW of additional wind generation capacity, China was by far the leader of the pack in 2017. It was followed by the US and Germany at 6 GW apiece, and then India and the UK, each adding 4 GW.
34. China leads the world in installed wind capacity at 164 GW.
China grew from having almost negligible wind power generation capacity in 2007 to becoming the world leader with the largest capacity in 2017. Other countries in decreasing order of wind power generation capacity are the US, Germany, India, and Spain.
35. Global wind power generation grew by more than 17% in 2017.
How much wind energy does the world use? Wind power generation grew by more than 17% in 2017 to reach 1120 TWh, or 4.4% of the total world electricity generation. That’s more than the total power generated by Russia, the world’s fourth largest power generator. China produced the most wind power last year, growing by 21% and contributing 30% of the global growth in wind power.
36. Wind power provided more than 48% of the power generation in Denmark in 2017.
Wind energy consumption data shows that it has become an important contributor to Europe’s electricity generation. In Denmark, wind power provided more than 48% of the country’s power generation in 2017. Wind has a much smaller share in the US, where it contributed just under 6% of power generation in 2017, and in China, where wind provided just under 4% of power. The other countries leading in terms of percentage of wind energy used in the world are Ireland, Lithuania, Germany, Portugal, and Spain, where wind power now provides 15% or more of the total power generated.
37. Onshore wind power generation capacity is expected to grow by 65% from 2018 to 2023.
Onshore wind capacity is expected to grow by 323 GW in the next five years and reach almost 839 GW by 2023. China leads this growth, followed by the United States, Europe, and India. The global offshore wind cumulative capacity is expected to reach 52 GW by 2023, up from 18 GW in 2017. Implementation will be led by the European Union and China. Enhanced policies and faster deployment of renewable power generation projects in the pipeline could result in an additional 8 GW.
38. Wind turbines can reduce carbon dioxide output by 125 million metric tons (the same output of 26.4 million cars).
For every megawatt-hour of electricity produced, about 1,500 pounds less of CO2 is emitted. In a year, one single turbine can avoid releasing the equivalent of 900 cars’ worth of carbon. Wind power also reduces fossil-fuel emissions, and governments and utilities are better able to meet regulatory emission reduction requirements. Wind energy generation also uses little water. According to the data on clean renewable energy worldwide from the Wind Energy Foundation, 68 billion gallons of water were saved in 2014 by wind power facilities, equal to about 215 gallons per person in a year.
39. The generation of wind energy requires wind to blow at a speed of 8 miles per hour or more.
Wind power’s generating capacity is limited to where there’s abundant wind. Satisfactory electricity production ideally requires wind at a speed of 8 miles per hour to occur for 18 to 20 hours per day.
Geothermal Energy Statistics
40. The worldwide geothermal power generation capacity grew by 4.3% or 600 MW in 2017.
The overall generation capacity reached 14.3 GW, with the largest additions to capacity taking place in Turkey (243 MW) and Indonesia (220 MW). One of geothermal energy’s important characteristics is a high load factor, which means that each MW of capacity produces significantly more electricity in a year than a MW of wind or solar capacity.
41. The US has the largest geothermal power generation capacity in the world at 3.7 GW.
While geothermal power runs at a much higher load factor than wind or solar power, the geological conditions required for geothermal power mean that development has been concentrated in a relatively small number of countries. According to worldwide renewable energy statistics, the US geothermal generation capacity accounts for 26% of the world’s total capacity. After the US, the countries with the largest capacities are the Philippines (1.9 GW), Indonesia (1.9 GW), and New Zealand (1 GW).
42. Geothermal power generation grew by 3.1% globally in 2017.
Overall the geothermal share of global power generation remains very small (0.3%), but the percent of geothermal energy used in the world is quite high in some pockets of the world, like Kenya (over 40% of total power), Iceland (27%), and New Zealand (18%). In 2017, the global geothermal power generation stood at an estimated 84.8 TWh.
43. China accounts for more than 66% of the world’s geothermal energy consumption.
Another 14% of the global geothermal consumption takes place in Turkey. Between 2012 and 2017, the geothermal renewable energy consumption almost doubled, mostly due to rapid growth in China. While most geothermal heat is used for bathing (45%) and space heating (34%), agriculture (primarily for heating greenhouses) has long been an important end-use sector in some countries. Over recent years, the energy-intensive greenhouse sector in the Netherlands has expanded geothermal use due to strong policy support. The country has become the fourth-largest user of geothermal heat in the agriculture sector after China, Turkey, and Japan.
44. The global geothermal power generation capacity is expected to grow to 17 GW by 2023.
According to notable clean energy trends, the biggest capacity additions are expected to come from Indonesia, Kenya, the Philippines, and Turkey. The Asia Pacific region will account for roughly 7.5 GW of capacity in 2023, followed by about 5 GW in North America. Global geothermal power generation is expected to reach a little over 110 TWh by 2023, marking a growth of about 30% between 2017 and 2023.
Biofuels and Other Clean Energy Sources
45. World biofuels production increased by 3.5% in 2017.
This was well below the 10-year average of 11.4% a year, but was the fastest for three years. The US provided the largest increment (950 ktoe). By fuel type, global ethanol production grew by 3.3%, contributing over 60% to the total growth in biofuels. Biodiesel production rose by 4%, driven mainly by growth in Argentina, Brazil, and Spain.
46. North America accounts for nearly 50% of the world’s biofuel production.
Alternative energy statistics indicate that the total worldwide production of biofuels in 2017 was a little over 80 Mtoe. Of this, close to 40 Mtoe were produced in North America, about 20 Mtoe in South and Central America, 15 Mtoe in Europe, and the rest in other parts of the world.
47. Over 50% of the bioenergy used in the world is for traditional cooking and heating.
Bioenergy accounted for roughly 9% of the world’s total primary energy supply in 2017. Data on the use of renewable energy by country shows that about 55% of this takes place in developing countries and relates to the traditional use of biomass for cooking and heating. The use of open fires and simple cooking stoves can negatively affect health (indoor smoke inhalation) and the environment. Another 15.9% is used for industrial heating, 12.4% for electricity, 8.6% in modern building heating, and 6.3% in transport.
48. There are 5 ocean energy technologies currently under development.
According to the recent new energy update, these five are tidal power (which utilizes the potential energy in tides by building a barrage), tidal currents (harnessing tidal currents’ kinetic energy via modular systems), wave power (using both the kinetic and potential energy in ocean waves), ocean thermal energy conversion or OTEC (making use of the temperature variances between the sea surface and deep water), and salinity gradients (which utilizes the energy associated with the salinity gradient where freshwater rivers meet saltwater seas). At the moment, only tidal power has moved beyond the demonstration phase. However, ocean energy has the potential to scale up over the long term.
49. There are only two large-scale tidal energy systems operational in the world.
Tidal barrages are highly advanced as they use conventional technology to tap water energy. However, only two large-scale systems are in operation worldwide: the 240 MW La Rance barrage in France has been generating power since 1966, while the 254 MW Sihwa barrage (South Korea) came into operation in 2011. Other smaller projects have been commissioned in China, Canada, and Russia.
Renewable Energy Economics
50. With an unsubsidized LCOE range of $30–$60 per MWh, onshore wind has become the world’s lowest-cost energy source for power generation.
LCOE, or levelized cost of electricity, refers to the net present value of the unit cost of electricity over the lifetime of the asset that generates it. In addition, according to a clean energy report from Deloitte, while the cost of onshore wind energy is not the same everywhere, in the leading countries like China, the US, India, Brazil, and the UK, wind’s LCOE now falls below even that of the cheapest fossil fuel, natural gas (at $42–$78 per MWh), thus encouraging faster adoption of renewable energy sources.
51. Utility-scale solar energy has become the second-cheapest energy source after onshore wind energy.
In fact, the high end of solar PV’s LCOE range ($43–$53/MWh) is lower than that of any other generation source. Solar PV has reached price parity in most of the leading markets like China, Germany, the US, Italy, and India, which is encouraging news for the growth of renewable energy. Japan is expected to reach solar price parity before 2030. In the US, the lowest costs are in the southwestern states and California. Globally, Australia has the lowest costs for solar PV, and Africa has the highest due to investment costs.
52. The LCOEs of onshore wind and utility-scale solar PV have fallen by 67% and 86% in the last eight years.
This massive drop in renewable energy costs is due to the plummeting cost of components and increased efficiency, both of which are expected to continue. In Europe, Japan, and China, competitive auctions are a major factor that further reduce costs by driving subsidy-free deployment at lower prices. On the other hand, except for combined-cycle gas plants, the LCOEs of all the other conventional energy sources and non-intermittent renewables have either remained flat (biomass and coal) or increased (geothermal, hydropower, and nuclear) over the past eight years.
53. Three-quarters of the top 20 US solar and wind states have electricity prices below the US national average.
Moreover, a quarter are among the nation’s ten states with the cheapest electricity, including the wind leader, Texas. In theory, because solar and wind have zero marginal generation costs, they displace more expensive generators and reduce electricity prices. On a global scale, the use of solar has flattened midday price peaks, while wind has lowered nighttime prices. A lower renewable energy price can prove to be a major motivation pushing consumers to demand a move to these alternatives.
54. Denmark has the lowest electricity prices in Europe.
Reflecting the reasoning mentioned above, wholesale electricity prices have come down in the other parts of the world with a higher dependence on solar and wind energy. In keeping with the very high Denmark renewable energy percentage, electricity prices in the country, not including taxes and levies, are among the lowest in Europe. Wholesale prices in the top European solar and wind market, Germany, have more than halved over the past decade. It’s estimated that once the US reaches Denmark’s penetration levels of 40–50% in renewables, some states will see the dawn of “energy too cheap to meter.”
55. The US states with the fewest outages also produce the most solar and wind power.
Over the past decade, as wind production increased by 645% in Texas, the state’s power grid reliability also significantly improved. And the renewable energy percentage world map shows similar trends. The grids of Germany and Denmark have also become more reliable over the past decade, even as the latter has seen wind and solar produce 90% of the power consumed in its western region for a fifth of the year. The interconnected Danish and German grids are currently two of the world’s most reliable. Wind broke generation records when the UK faced a natural gas shortage during a winter storm in 2018. It also beat generation expectations in the US when coal piles froze during the 2014 polar vortex and soaked during Hurricane Harvey in 2017.
56. 6 of the top 10 solar energy companies in the world are based in China, and 8 are in Asia.
Based on own-brand shipped volumes, the list of the top 10 solar panel companies in the world in 2018 is led by China’s JinkoSolar. Along with driving global investments in the renewable energy infrastructure, China is also among the top countries when it comes to renewable energy manufacturing. Three more Chinese firms—JA Solar, Trina Solar, and LONGi Solar—make up the top four. The only non-Asian companies on this list are Canadian Solar at number five and the US’s First Solar at number ten. First Solar is also among the top solar panel stocks recommended by Investopedia. Other picks include TerraForm Power, Ormat Technologies, Pattern Energy Group, and SolarEdge Technologies.
57. The top pick among pure-play windmill power stocks for 2018 was Vestas.
Denmark-headquartered Vestas also became the largest wind turbine manufacturer in the world in 2018 after toppling China’s Xinjiang GoldWind Science and Technology. The top five global wind turbine suppliers, according to an FTI Intelligence Report, were Vestas, Siemens Gamesa, GoldWind, GE, and Enercon. The top five picks among stocks in windmill energy in 2018, according to Energy Acuity, were GE, Vestas, Exelon, Siemens, and NextEra Energy.
58. Investment in renewable energy stocks is tricky: the Invesco Global Clean Energy ETF lost 20% of its value in 2018.
Despite the significant growth potential of this type of energy, the stock prices of many companies in the sector haven’t proved enriching for investors. Apart from the weak performance of the Invesco Global Clean Energy ETF, one of the more well-known exchange-traded funds with renewable energy investments, several other similar companies have ended up declaring bankruptcy, requiring caution from investors. According to Investopedia, Vestas, Atlantica Yield, First Solar, and ABB Ltd are some of 2018’s best renewable energy stocks.
59. China accounted for 23.2% of 2017’s global energy consumption.
China’s energy consumption in 2017 grew by 3.1%, increasing from 1.2% in 2016 and reflecting a possible strengthening of industrial activity. This was still lower than its 10-year yearly average of 4.4%. The country also accounted for 33.6% of global energy consumption growth and continued its 17-year run of being the largest contributor to global growth. China also accounted for all of the global nuclear power increment in 2017 (17%).
60. China’s consumption of renewable energy increased by 31% in 2017.
How does China generate most of its electricity? The country’s energy mix continued to evolve over 2017, so while coal remained the dominant fuel, its share in total energy consumption (60.4%) was the lowest on record. The 31% consumption growth accounted for 36% of the world’s renewable energy consumption growth, making up 21.9% of the global total consumption.
61. China’s solar consumption increased by 76% in 2017.
For China, the renewable energy statistics show that the country’s consumption growth for other non-fossil fuels was 25% for biomass, 21% for wind, and 0.5% for hydro. The growth in the consumption of hydroelectricity was the lowest in China since 2012. The rise in CO2 emissions was by 1.6%, the same rate as the global average and less than China’s 10-year yearly average of 3.2%.
62. The US’s primary energy consumption growth in 2017 was 0.6%.
This was well above the 10-year average decline of 0.3%. Oil remained the dominant fuel, accounting for 40.9% of total US energy use, the highest share since 2007. The increased consumption of renewables in power (+14.3%), hydro (+12.7%), oil (+0.9%), and nuclear (0.2%) offset declines in coal (-2.2%) and natural gas (-1.2%).
63. The US’s energy production grew by 4.3% in 2017.
This was well above the 10-year average of 1.8%. United States renewable energy data shows a growth in renewable power by 14.3%. However, production of every energy form increased in 2017, with oil growing by 5.4% and coal by 6.9%. CO2 emissions in the US fell by 0.5% in 2017, which was a little lower than the 10-year average decline of 1.2%. However, emissions reached their lowest levels since 1992 and were 13.5% below the peak seen in 2007.
64. In 2017, the US’s power generation fell by 1.3%.
This was the third consecutive year showing a decline in power generation in the US. The rising renewable energy percentage was more than offset by declines in natural gas and coal generation. Energy intensity (the amount of energy required per unit of GDP) fell by 1.6%, in line with the 10-year average.
65. Renewable energy generation in the US has almost doubled in the last 10 years.
In 2018, renewables achieved a new record of 742 million MWh of electricity generated, according to Renewable Energy World. This is compared to the 382 million MWh produced in 2008. Hydro increased by about 2% over the last decade. Hydroelectricity is still the biggest piece of the renewables mix, records show, totaling 292 million MWh generated last year. Wind is catching up, rising 55 million MWh in 10 years to 275 million MWh for 2018. However, wind and solar combined to make up 90% of the increase in renewable energy. US solar generation has jumped exponentially in the last decade, from 2 million to 55 million MWh. Solar now generates 2.3% of the US’s electricity mix, compared with hydro and wind, at 6.9% and 6.5%, respectively.
66. The EU’s energy consumption increased by 1.6% in 2017.
Marking the fastest growth rate since 2003 in Europe, renewable energy statistics indicate that this was well above the 10-year average of decline by 1%. Additionally, the overall energy intensity decreased by 1%, compared to the 10-year average decline of 2%. Oil and gas remained the dominant primary fuel sources, accounting for 38% and 24% of the primary energy consumed, respectively.
67. The total power generation in the EU increased by 1.3% to 3,290 TWh.
This marked Europe’s highest output since 2012. As for Germany, the renewable energy statistics show that the country has the greatest share in total power generation, with 654.2 TWh. However, the greatest growth came from Turkey (8%).
Non-hydro renewable generation increased by 70 TWh to 670 TWh, more than three times its level in 2007. Of 2017’s growth, 80% came from wind. Hydro generation declined sharply by 50 TWh (-14%) owing to low rainfall, especially in Spain.
Incidentally, do you know which country generates the highest proportion of its electricity from nuclear power? While the US consumes the highest amount of nuclear energy in absolute terms (191.7 Mtoe in 2017), among the major producers, nuclear power has the highest share in overall energy consumption in France. In 2017, France’s nuclear power consumption was 90.1 Mtoe of its 237.9 Mtoe total energy consumption.
68. CO2 emissions from fossil fuel consumption increased in the EU by 1.5% in 2017.
According to alternative energy statistics from the last decade, this was the third consecutive annual increase and well above the 10-year average annual decline of 2%. Only four countries—the Czech Republic, Finland, the Netherlands, and Sweden—could manage a decrease in CO2 emissions. Germany had the least positive growth at 0.1%.
69. There was a 4.6% growth in India’s energy consumption in 2017.
Coal remains the dominant fuel in India’s energy mix, accounting for 56% of India’s energy consumption. The growth in India’s coal consumption by 4.8% contributed the most to global coal consumption. According to renewable energy statistics for India, the consumption of renewables (minus hydro) grew by 20%, while the consumption of hydropower grew by 6%. Energy intensity decreased by 1.6%, which was slightly better than the 10-year average decline of 1.5%.
70. Electricity generation rose by 5.6% in India in 2017.
This was slower than its 10-year average of 6.7%. Coal continued to dominate power generation (76% of the total); however, renewable power generators registered their largest ever contribution to this growth. 2017 was also the first time that the growth increment for solar generation (+87%) exceeded that of wind generation (+21%). Biomass continued to decline (-13%), while hydropower registered a growth of 6%.
71. CO2 emissions in India grew by 4.4% in 2017.
While this was better than India’s 10-year average growth of 6%, it lags behind the overall performance of the Asia Pacific region (+2.3%). In the APAC region, Japan has steadily been increasing the percentage of energy from renewable sources it produces every year. In fact, it’s the only large economy that managed a decline in CO2 emissions (-0.1%).
72. The Middle East accounted for 45% of global crude oil exports in 2017.
The Middle East also accounted for 34% of the world oil production and 17% of the gross refined products trade. However, oil production did come down in 2017 by 250 Kb/d—the largest decline since 2009 in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the UAE; since 2006 in Oman; and since 2002 in Qatar.
Oil and gas accounted for 98% of the energy mix and 95% of the electricity generation, the same figures from 2016. For obvious reasons, this region continues to depend on hydrocarbon generation for most of its energy needs.
73. Energy consumption in the Middle East increased by 3.4% in 2017.
This growth was particularly strong in Iran (+16 Mtoe, which made up over half the regional increase). Oil consumption was driven mainly by Iran, while gas consumption saw the greatest increase in Iraq. The energy intensity exhibited the highest growth since 2002, increasing by 2.6% after registering a decline in 2016.
74. Based on renewable energy data on electricity, the generation of this renewable power source increased by 4.2% in the Middle East in 2017.
This was below its 10-year average of 5.4%. Growth in Saudi Arabia (+5 TWh) was the lowest since 1989, while the increase in Iran (+18 TWh) was the highest ever. Hydroelectricity saw a slight decline, at -0.2 TWh, while electricity from other renewables saw an increase of 1.7 TWh. However, the renewable energy market share of the Middle East remains low compared to other regions of the world. CO2 emissions from energy use increased by 2.9% in 2017, and the region’s share of global emissions reached a record level of 6.3%.
75. Africa’s energy consumption increased by 2.9% in 2017, faster than the world average of 2.2%.
Africa’s energy consumption remains heavily dominated by oil (43.7% of the total), gas (27.1%), and coal (20.7%). The utilization of renewable power sources has not even come close to reaching its potential, with hydro accounting for only 6.5% and nuclear and renewables combined representing 2%. However, unlike other countries and regions in Africa, South Africa’s energy demand dropped.
76. Primary energy production increased by 5.7% in Africa in 2017.
This contrasted with its 10-year average drop of 0.9%. The increase (+40 Mtoe) was led by oil (+5.0%, +17 Mtoe) and gas (+9.0%, +16 Mtoe). Power generation increased by 4.4%, above the 10-year average of 3.1%. Most growth came from natural gas and hydro, while oil-related generation declined. Based on renewable energy production by country, non-fossil fuels accounted for 20% of the total energy generation in Africa—well below the global average of 35%. CO2 emissions from energy use went up by 1.9% in 2017. The region accounted for 3.6% of global emissions.
77. Primary energy consumption in the UK fell by 0.1% in 2017.
This was a slower decline than its 10-year average decline of 1.8%. Oil and gas remained the dominant energy sources, making up 40% and 35% of the primary energy consumption, respectively. Energy intensity declined by 1.8%, after having fallen by 3.3% in 2016.
78. The total power generation in the UK declined by 0.8% in 2017.
The UK’s total power generation in 2017 was 340 TWh, its lowest level since 1984, resulting from both its efficiency measures and warmer weather. For the first time on record, the majority of the UK’s power generation came from the use of renewable energy and zero carbon emission sources (nuclear, hydro, and renewables). These accounted for 50.4% of the generated power, up from 45.7% in 2016. This growth was driven by an increase in renewables output, rising from 78 TWh last year to 93 TWh. Wind (+12 TWh) accounted for more than 80% of the increase. Power sector declines drove CO2 emissions from energy use down by 2.7% (vs. the 10-year average annual decline of 3.4%).
79. Russia’s energy consumption grew by 1.5% (+8.7 Mtoe) in 2017.
Russia remained the fourth largest energy consumer in the world (behind China, the US, and India) even though it doesn’t rank high among the countries that use renewable energy to a large degree. Gas remained Russia’s leading fuel, with 52.3% of the primary energy consumption, followed by oil (21.9%), and coal (13.2%). Energy intensity stayed flat in 2017 and was 66% higher than the world average. Russia’s CO2 emissions went up by 1.3% in 2017, but the country’s share of global emissions (4.6%) remained below its share of global energy consumption.
80. Renewables were the fastest-growing fuel for Russia in 2017 but still contributed only 0.04% to the country’s primary energy consumption.
Despite a growth in renewables of 8.7%, Russia remains at a low rank when it comes to the percentage of energy from renewable sources by country. Nuclear grew by 3.6% and hydroelectricity by 0.5% in 2017. Russia accounted for 10.4% of the world’s primary energy production. The most important contributions to global output were for gas (17.3%), oil (12.6%), nuclear (7.7%), and coal (5.5%). Russia remained the world’s largest exporter of both oil (12.7% of the total) and natural gas (20.4%).
- The key drivers behind renewable energy growth include policy decisions, the lowering costs of solar and wind energy, and widespread acceptance among consumers when it comes to the importance of switching to clean energy.
- The share of renewable energy sources in electricity generation is growing at a brisk pace globally. However, the share growth of renewables in other areas of energy use is much slower and a cause for concern.
- There are significant regional variations in terms of renewable energy capacity and consumption, but renewable energy statistics prove conclusively that the countries relying heavily on alternative energy are also seeing the associated benefits.
US Energy Information Administration