Global Electricity Generation 1973 and 2017

The total world electricity generation capacity has increased four-fold in the past half century, and looks like doubling again at least by mid-century. The share of fossil fuels has fallen from 75% to 65%, but this gain has been mostly offset by a gain in nuclear. Clean energy (hydro and new renewables) has increased by only 2.8% by share, although in absolute terms renewables are now generating 4.7 times as much electricity in 2017 compared to 1973.

Coal has remained very constant as the world’s primary source, at more than one-third of all power. Oil has been practically eliminated as a source for electricity generation, being replaced by natural gas and renewables. The share of hydropower has fallen slightly from one-fifth to one-sixth by percentage, but in absolute terms generates more than three times the electricity it did in the 1970s. Nuclear has grown far below expectations, and is currently at 10%. New renewables, e.g. wind, solar, biofuels, and geothermal, are expected to surpass nuclear very soon.

Global Electricity Generation 1973 and 2017

Source1973 /%1973 /TWh2017 /%2017 /TWhChange 1973-2017 /%Change /TWh (2017/1973)
Coal38.32 34838.19 723-0.2+7 375 (4.1)
Oil24.81 5203.5883-21.3-637 (0.6)
Natural gas12.174223.15 915+11.0+5 173 (8.0)
Fossils75.24 61164.716 521-10.5+11 910 (3.6)
Nuclear3.320210.32 636+7.0+2 434 (13.0)
Non-renewables78.54 81375.019 157-3.5+14 344 (4.0)
Hydropower20.91 28115.94 060-5.0+2 779 (3.2)
New renewables*0.6378.42 152+7.6+2 115 (58.2)
Total renewables21.51 31824.36 212+2.8+4 894 (4.7)
Total all sources1006 13110025 5510.0+19 420 (4.2)

Source: Key world energy statistics, 2018 IEA

*Non-hydro renewable energy, including waste incineration.
Totals may not make 100% due to rounding errors