What Percentage of Energy Is Renewable in the World
About 30% of the world’s electricity comes from renewable sources, such as hydropower, wind and solar.
While the share of renewables in electricity production is on the rise, the growth rate is slow, particularly in light of increasing electricity demand (an estimated 3% growth by 2025) and the rise in carbon emission (37.12 billion tons in 2021 from fossil fuels alone).
How much will renewables contribute to global energy production in the future and which countries are taking the lead? Can renewable sources meet global energy requirements?
You can find the answers and more in the article below.
6 Fascinating Renewable Energy Statistics and Facts
- 28.7% of electricity generation comes from renewable sources.
- Fossil fuels account for 80% of energy generation worldwide, while renewables take up 10%.
- 22% of electricity generated in the US comes from renewables.
- Renewable energy is set to provide 35% of the world’s electricity by 2050.
- Solar power will account for 54% of new electricity generating capacity in 2023 in the United States.
- Supply of renewable energy needs to grow by 13% annually to alight with the Net Zero Scenario by 2030.
Renewable Energy Usage
1. How much of world energy consumption and electricity is renewable?
(IEA, Al Jazeera)
As of 2021, the share of renewable energy sources in global electricity generation was 28.7%. This represents a slight growth of 0.4 percentage points due to an increase in electricity demand as economic activity rebounded after the Covid-19 lockdowns.
All in all, renewables increased by 5.7% between 2020 and 2021.
However, electricity takes up only 18% of total energy consumption, whereas the rest is needed for transport and heating.
When it comes to total energy generation, almost 80% is generated by fossil fuels, such as oil, gas, and coal, while renewable energy (including biofuels) take up around 10%. Nuclear and traditional biomass make up the rest.
2. 13.47% of primary energy generation comes from renewables.
(Our World in Data)
In 2021, almost 14% of primary energy (i.e. energy harvested directly from natural resources) came from renewable energy sources. The share of renewable energy sources is highest in Scandinavian countries such as Iceland (86.87%), Norway (71.56%), and Sweden (50.92%) where over half of primary energy comes from hydropower, solar, wind, or geothermal, bioenergy, wave, and tidal.
In the US, on the other hand, only 10.66% of primary energy was produced from renewable sources.
3. Which countries lead in renewable energy usage?
(Statista, Our World in Data)
Global consumption of renewable energy has increased considerably over the last 20 years, rising to 39.91 exajoules in 2021.
China takes the lead as the world’s biggest consumer of renewable electricity (11.3 exajoules) or 28.4% of global renewable consumption. The United States holds the second-highest share (7.48 exajoules), followed by Brazil (2.39 exajoules), Germany (2.28 exajoules), and India (1.79 exajoules).
In terms of per capita consumption of energy, usage of renewable energy sources was the highest in Iceland (136,961 kWh per capita), ahead of Norway (75,242 kWh), Sweden (30,865 kWh), and Canada (30,324 kWh).
4. 20,181 TWh of renewable energy were consumed in 2021.
(Our World in Data)
Most of this came from traditional biomass (11,111 TWh), such as fuelwood, forestry products, animal and agricultural wastes, and hydropower (4,273 TWh). 1,032 TWh of energy consumed was generated from solar power, 1,851 TWh came from wind, 1,139 TWh from modern biofuel, and 762 TWh from other renewables like geothermal, biomass (not traditional biomass), waste, wave, and tidal.
Renewable Energy Production
5. Which countries lead on renewable energy production?
(Our World in Data)
As of 2021,134 countries (or 65% of the world) generate most of their electricity from fossil fuels, whereas 66 countries, or 31%, generate power from renewables and 4% or 7 countries get it from nuclear power.
Only five countries (Albania, Bhutan, Lesotho, Nepal, and Central African Republic) produce 100% of their electricity from renewable sources.
Iceland (where 99.99% of electricity comes from renewables), Ethiopia (99.93%), Paraguay (99.73%), and Norway (99.54%) also rank high on the list.
6. 7.931 TWh of renewable energy was generated in 2021.
(Our World in Data)
Most of this came from hydropower (4,274 TWh), followed by wind (1,862 TWh), solar (1,033 TWh), and other renewables (763 TWh) — excluding traditional biomass.
7. 22% of electricity generated in the US comes from renewables.
(EIA, Department of Energy)
In 2022, around 4.24 trillion kWh of electricity was produced at utility-scale electricity generation facilities, i.e. power plants with at least one megawatt of generating capacity. 60% of production came from fossil fuels, 22% was generated using renewables and 18% was from nuclear power.
The breakdown of renewable electricity generation in the US looks like this:
Renewable Energy Sources: Types of Renewable Energy Sources Used
8. What percentage of renewable energy is solar?
(Our World in Data)
3.74% of global electricity came from solar power in 2022. Total installed solar capacity was an estimated 843.09 GW in 2021.
Solar power accounts for the largest share of electricity generated in Namibia (24.20% in 2021), although the share of electricity produced from solar power is high in other countries, such as Palestine (23.26%), Luxembourg (20.17%), and Yemen (17.05%).
A total of 1,040.50 TWh of energy from solar power was generated in 2021 with China accounting for the lion’s share of production (327 TWh), followed by the US (164.42 TWh) and Japan (88.70 TWh). This translates to 1.63% of primary energy generated worldwide.
9. What percentage of renewable energy is hydroelectricity?
(Our World in Data)
Hydroelectric power is one of the oldest renewable energy sources, being used to generate electricity for over a century. It also takes up the largest share among renewables – as of 2021, it accounts for 15.22% of global electricity produced. In terms of primary energy, though, hydropower takes up just 6.76% of production.
Total generated hydropower stood at 4,234.35 TWh in 2021.
10. What percentage of the world’s energy is generated by wind?
(Our World in Data)
1,848.26 TWh of wind-generated energy was produced in 2021. This means that around 6.65% of electricity and 2.95% of primary energy produced comes from this renewable source.
However, the scale of wind power generation varies considerably across the world. For instance, in Denmark, wind power makes up 55.03% of total electricity generation, while it only accounts for 9.11% of electricity produced in the United States.
Total installed wind capacity stood at 824.87 GW in 2021.
Renewable Energy Usage by Types
11. 12% of renewable energy in the US is used for transport.
In 2021, biofuel consumption took up 5% of total US transportation sector energy consumption. The share of ethanol was 4% and the combined percentage of biodiesel, renewable diesel, and other biofuels was roughly 1%. Transportation takes up a large share of energy consumption (28%) although heat is the biggest energy end‑user.
12. 11.2 EJ of modern renewable heat was consumed in 2020 compared to 58.4 EJ that came from non-renewable sources.
Globally, modern renewable heat consumption should increase faster than demand over the next five years, but not enough to contain the growth of non-renewable heat consumption. By 2026, the share of modern uses of renewables will go up by a quarter, while fossil fuel consumption will see a 5% rise in heat-related CO2 emissions.
13. In 2021, renewable energy sources accounted for 37.5% of electricity consumption in the EU.
Although wind and hydropower took up the largest share (over two-thirds of electricity generated), solar power was the fastest-growing source of energy going up from only 7.4 TWh to 163.8 TWh in a span of 13 years.
At the same time, the share of renewables in energy used for heating and cooling increased to 22.9 % in 2021, while renewable energy sources took up a 9.1% share of energy used for transport.
Renewable Energy Growth Trends
14. Renewable energy is set to provide 35% of the world’s electricity by 2050.
This will put the share of renewables in electricity generation ahead of coal, making them the top source of electricity. In fact, judging by data from the International Energy Agency, renewable power generation is forecast to increase by over 9% year-on-year by 2025 when 90% of new demand for electricity will be made up of renewable energy sources, like solar, hydro, and wind power, together with nuclear energy.
China is expected to take the lead, generating almost 50% of additional renewable energy, followed by the EU with 15%.
15. Solar power will account for over half of new electricity generating capacity in 2023 in the United States.
Thanks to the drop in solar panel prices and various state and federal tax incentives, solar capacity has become the fastest-growing renewable source of energy in the US. As of the start of the year, 73.5 GW of utility-scale solar capacity was operating in the US, accounting for around 6% of the total. The share of solar energy in energy generation, though, is expected to grow fast reaching 54% in 2023.
Wind capacity is also expected to increase — currently 141.3 GW of wind capacity is operating in the United States, or 12% of the total with developers planning to add an extra 7.1 GW this year.
Since wind and solar power are intermittent sources of generation, the use of battery storage systems will also grow — in 2023, the addition of another 8.6 GW of battery storage power capacity to the grid is planned, doubling total battery power capacity in the US.
Much of the growth in the share of renewables is attributed to the introduction of the Inflation Reduction Act which is set to provide $370 billion in clean energy investments.
16. Supply of renewable energy needs to grow by 13% annually to alight with the Net Zero Scenario by 2030.
Even though solar PV has been the fastest-growing technology by capacity, there is still much to be done to meet the Net Zero Scenario by 2030 since the capacity added in 2021 is only one-third of the average annual additions predicted. With wind power, average annual installations need to double from 2021, whereas, for hydropower and bioenergy, the increase needs to be twice as high as the average growth rate over the past 5 years.
17. Could the world be fully powered by renewable energy?
(Energy Watch Group)
According to a study at LUT University in Finland and the Energy Watch Group from Germany, a transition to 100% renewable power generation across all sectors can be done by 2050. Based on the report, the whole energy system will be supplied by a mix of renewable sources, but wind and solar power are expected to lead the way, making up 88% of total energy supply.
The report also predicts that a 100% renewable energy system will provide around 35 million jobs, most of which will be created in the solar power sector. At the same time, it is expected that annual global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the energy sector will decline from roughly 30 GtCO2eq in 2015 to zero by 2050.
Finally, the report projects that a completely renewable energy system will cut costs in several regions including the Middle East and North Africa (-31%), North America (-22%), South America (-34%), and Europe (-15%).
Dark Side of Renewable Energy Sources
18. Solar panel waste could reach 78 million tons by 2050.
According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), around 250,000 metric tons of solar panel waste was created in the world in 2016, with estimates that the figure will rise to 315,000 metric tons by 2050. IRENA suggests that early replacement of solar panels (before the expected 30 years) will lead to 50 times more waste.
19. To get 100% of electricity from the Sun, the US would need to cover 17,000 square miles with solar panels.
It is estimated that the average solar farm produces 357,000 kWh per acre. Production depends on several factors (cloud cover, the power collectors, distance from the end user), but in general, to meet the electricity demands of the US, the country would need an additional 11 million acres of solar farms.