World electricity generation

In 2019, annual electricity generation by fossil fuels reduced for the first time since 2015; the only instances in the past decade.
During 2016-19, additional wind electricity generation faltered, and that from solar slowed.

All data shown is the most recent available as of August 2020. The most recent year varies with dataset.

Chart 1. World electricity generation by share, 2019. Data: BP(2020).1 2
Chart 2. World electricity generation by share of fuel type category, 1999-2019. Data: BP(2020).1 2 Classification ‘Other’ small and omitted for clarity.
Chart 3. World electricity generation by share of fuel type, 1999-2019. Data: BP(2020).1 2

Charts 4 & 5 show annual changes to electricity generation. In 2019, annual electricity generation by fossil fuels reduced for the first time since 2015; the only instances in the past decade. The reduction in 2019 was by an amount equivalent to 59% of the reduction in 2009 during the Global Financial Crisis.3 4

Chart 4. Annual change of world electricity generation, by fuel type category, 1985-2019. Data: BP(2020).1 2

Chart 5 shows this net reduction is attributable to a reduction from coal and oil, as occurred in 2015 and 2009. Additional generation by gas has been relentless.

Chart 5. Annual change of world electricity generation, by fuel type, 1986-2019. Data: BP(2020).1 2 Classification ‘Other’ small and omitted for clarity.

Annual change of electricity generation is detailed below separately for each fuel type category and fuel type.

Annual absolute values are displayed in the upper rows to help convey the significance of the changes displayed in the lower rows. The pink lines in the lower rows are a five year moving average; any point on these lines is the average annual change of the previous 5 years.

Chart 6 shows expansion of fossil fuelled electricity generation over the past decade slowed, replaced by accelerated expansion of the combination of hydro, wind & solar. Despite this, fossil fuelled electricity generation during 2015-19 increased at an average rate equivalent to almost 60% of the increase of hydro, wind & solar over the same time period, as shown by the pink line in 2019 (i.e. 200TWh/annum / 350TWh/annum =0.57).

Chart 6. World electricity annual generation (top) and annual change (bottom), by fuel type category, 1999-2019. Data: BP(2020).1 2 5 Classification ‘Other’ small and omitted for clarity. Upper row: Annual absolute value. Lower row: Annual change. Pink line: 5 year moving average. Any point on this line is the average value of the change of electricity generation over the previous 5 years for the respective fuel type.

Significant changes of individual fuels are listed below and shown in charts 7a and 7b.

Coal

The change of coal fired generation has been volatile since 2008. The 5 year average shows a declining trend that fell to zero over 2015-19, indicating that expansion may have ceased. There is not yet a trend of decline, only one of a decline of expansion.

Gas

Gas fired generation continued to increase, at 80% of the rate of the combination of wind & solar (i.e. 200/[150+100]). This is significant given that gas fired generation had a a 23% share in 2019.

Wind & Solar

During 2017-19, additional electricity generation from wind faltered and that from solar slowed, as shown by the respective charts in the lower-most row.

Chart 7a. World electricity annual generation and annual change, by fuel type, 1999-2019. Data: BP(2020).1 2 5 Classification ‘Other’ small and omitted for clarity. Upper rows: Annual absolute value. Lower rows: Annual change. Pink line: 5 year moving average. Any point on this line is the average value of the change of electricity generation over the previous 5 years for the respective fuel type.
Chart 7b. World electricity annual generation and annual change, by fuel type, 1999-2019. Data: BP(2020).1 2 5 Classification ‘Other’ small and omitted for clarity. Upper rows: Annual absolute value. Lower rows: Annual change. Pink line: 5 year moving average. Any point on this line is the average value of the change of electricity generation over the previous 5 years for the respective fuel type.
Footnotes
  1. https://www.bp.com/en/global/corporate/energy-economics/statistical-review-of-world-energy.html()()()()()()()()
  2. BP does not fully account for biofuels, and these may not be carbon-neutral, as explained at https://www.worldenergydata.org/biofuels/()()()()()()()()
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Financial_crisis_of_2007%E2%80%932008()
  4. -117/-198 = 0.59()
  5. Biofuels on this website are the summation of solid and liquid biofuels, and therefore Geothermal, Biofuels and Other equals the summation of BP’s data for ‘Geo, Biomass and Other’ and ‘Biofuels’.()()()