Electricity generation in the world in 2020

This is evidenced by the data of the March Global Electricity Review 2021 report from the British analytical agency Ember.

In particular, in 2020, the volume of electricity produced from alternative generation compared to 2019 changed as follows:

  • SES – growth by 19.9% ​​(+140.7 TWh);
  • WPP – growth by 12.2% (+173.2 TWh);
  • Hydropower – growth by 2.2% (+93.8 TWh);
  • Bioenergy – growth by 2.4% (+13.6 TWh);
  • Other renewable energy facilities – growth by 5.8% (+6.4 TWh).

As noted, the combined production of wind turbines and thermal power plants increased in 2020 by 15% (+314 TWh). Thus, these energy facilities produced almost a tenth (9.4%) of the world’s electricity in 2020, doubling production volumes from 2015 (4.6%).

The following G20 countries now get about a 10th of their electricity from wind and solar: India (9%), China (9.5%), Japan (10%), Brazil (11%), the United States (12%) ) and Turkey ( 12%).

In Europe, the leaders in RES production are Germany – 33% and Great Britain – 29%. In Indonesia, Russia and Saudi Arabia, this indicator is still close to zero.

In turn, the traditional energy sector changed as follows in 2020:

  • Coal – decrease by 3.8% (- 345.8 TWh);
  • Natural gas – a decrease of 0.9% (-50.7 TWh);
  • Nuclear energy – decrease by 3.8% (- 104.1 TWh);
  • Other types of fossil fuels – growth by 3.6% (+ 39.1 TWh).

However, in 2020, the demand for electricity decreased by only 0.1%.

China became the only country of the “Big 20” in which the production of electricity from coal increased significantly (+2%).

As Ember explains, this is because the growth in electricity demand has continued to outpace the growth in the share of renewables.

Currently, China accounts for more than half (53%) of the world’s coal-fired electricity, compared to 44% in 2015.

“The demand for electricity has increased by 11% since 2015 (+2,536 TWh), but the increase in production from RES amounted to +2,107 TWh, which is not keeping up with the pace of demand. This led to an increase in the total production of e/e from fossil fuels. As a result, CO2 emissions in the energy sector in 2020 were about 2% higher than in 2015. Non-fossil electricity generated only 54% of the growth in e/e demand in China, 57% in India and 37% in Indonesia. Meanwhile, in Europe, and especially in the US, the decline in coal was driven not only by the rise in clean electricity, but also by the rise in gas production. Of the 10% growth in global generation from natural gas (since 2015), half fell on the United States,” Ember summarized.

World economy

Electricity of the world
Electricity includes the production of various types of electricity, its transportation. All power plants are divided into thermal, hydraulic, nuclear, geothermal, and tidal. The total capacity of power plants in the world is 2750 GW. The production of electricity in the world is growing very fast. If on the eve of the Second World War (1938) 460 billion kWh of energy was produced; in 1950 – 972 and 1970 – 5053, then already in 2000 – 14937 billion kWh. This is primarily due to the growth in demand for electricity from both the population and the economy as a whole. In addition, the high transportability of electricity over considerable distances with the help of power lines significantly changed the territorial location of industrial enterprises and agricultural facilities. They became less dependent on the places of primary energy sources and were able to get closer to consumers of products.

Despite the widespread use of electrical energy, its production is unevenly distributed. The first place among the countries of the world is occupied by the USA (27% of world production), second – China, third – Japan, fourth – Russia, producing respectively 7.6, 7.5 and 6.2% of the world’s electricity. Ukraine, producing 178 billion kWh, ranks fifteenth in the world.

Thermal power plants predominate, which account for more than 3/5 of the world’s electricity production. The specific weight of hydroelectric power plants in the production of electricity at the end of the 20th century. was 19%, and nuclear power plants — 17.4%. Canada, Brazil, the USA, China, Russia stand out for the production of hydropower, and for nuclear energy – the USA, France, Japan, Germany, Great Britain. Nuclear power plants that use transportable fuel – uranium, are located regardless of the fuel-energy factor and are oriented towards the consumer. According to the IAEA, 445 reactors with a total capacity of 2,200 kW operate in 33 countries.

Fuel and energy balance of the world

Since ancient times, mankind has used muscle power, wood, the driving force of water, the energy of the Sun, the energy of animal biomass, etc. as energy carriers. During most of the 19th century, the main source of energy was wood fuel, but from the second half of the 19th century. gradually won the position of coal. At the beginning of the 20th century it already accounted for more than 50% of the structure of world energy consumption, and on the eve of the First World War, its share increased to 2/3. Firewood continued to play a significant role in the fuel-energy balance, while oil began to be used at the same time. Its importance grew rapidly in the interwar period, when natural gas began to be used more actively. In the 50s of the XX century. the share of coal in world energy consumption was already less than half, and oil and natural gas became the basis of the fuel and energy balance. At the same time, humanity first mastered atomic energy for peaceful purposes, the share of which in energy consumption began to grow and reached at the end of the 20th century. 5–6% — the same amount as hydropower (the share of the latter was more or less stable during the second half of the 20th century). At the end of the 20th century the role of alternative (renewable) energy sources — wind, solar, biomass, and geothermal — has somewhat increased.

So, in the development of the fuel and energy balance during the XX century. distinguish two stages: coal (somewhere until the end of the 50s, while coal prevailed over all other types of fuel and energy) and oil and gas (from the beginning of the 1960s). The combined share of oil and natural gas still predominates in the structure of world energy consumption, which indicates the continuation of the oil and gas phase. At the same time, some researchers single out the third stage in the development of the world’s fuel and energy balance since the beginning of the 1980s — the modern one. Its signs are called: a slight decrease in the share of oil (its maximum value was 46% precisely in 1980), an increase in the importance of nuclear and renewable energy sources. Great hope was placed on nuclear energy: according to forecasts at the time, by the end of the 20th century. its share in the global fuel and energy balance was to reach 15%. However, the accident at the Chornobyl NPP in 1986 brought significant corrections to the development of world atomic energy — in many countries, after it, the programs for the construction of new NPPs were sharply curtailed. At the same time, the environmental factor contributed to increased attention to the development of energy that uses alternative sources.