80 Renewable Energy Statistics (Infographic)

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

Renewable Energy Home - Infographic

Energy Statistics

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 energy in 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