Renewable electricity generation climbs to second place after coal

6 August 2015

‌‌‌‌‌‌In 2014, electricity production in the 34 members of the OECD fell slightly to 10 712 TWh a decrease of 0.8% or 86 TWh compared to 2013, according to provisional data recently released by the International Energy Agency (IEA). This decline was driven by lower fossil fuel and hydro production that were only partially offset by growth in non-hydro renewables (+8.5%) and nuclear (+0.9%).

OECD Electricity production 20132014

The growth in non-hydro renewable electricity was driven by solar and wind. In 2014, solar photovoltaic overtook solid biofuels to become the second largest source of non-hydro renewable electricity in OECD Europe, with a share of 17.3%. Since 1990, solar photovoltaic has been increasing at an average growth rate of 44.6% per year, and wind at 27.1% per year.

 OECD Europe NonHydro Renewable Electricity by source

Growth in electricity generation continues to be driven by non-OECD countries. The latest data released by the IEA shows that global electricity generation increased by 2.9% between 2012 and 2013. The data shows clearly two distinct trends. Electricity generation is levelling off within the OECD, with a negative annual average growth rate (AAGR) of -0.35% between 2010 and 2013, while it is strongly rising in the rest of the world (AAGR 5.6%). As a consequence, in 2011 non-OECD countries produced more electricity than OECD countries for the first time in history.

OECD vs Non-OECD electricity production 1973 to 20132014

Data for 2013 show that renewable electricity generation overtook natural gas to become the second largest source of electricity worldwide producing 22% of total electricity or 5 130 TWh. In addition, in 2013, global non-hydro renewable electricity, which rose to 1 256 TWh or 5.4% of global electricity production, surpassed oil-fired generation for the first time ever.

In the same year, electricity generated by coal reached its highest level yet at 9 613 TWh, representing 41.1% of global electricity production.  The growth in coal generation was driven by non-OECD countries.

World electricity production by source from 1973 to 2013

On a global level, the majority of renewable energy is consumed in the residential, commercial and public services sectors. However, two patterns can be identified: in the non-OECD countries only 22.3% of renewables are used for electricity and heat production and 60.7% in the residential, commercial and public sectors; in the OECD countries, more than half of the renewable primary energy supply (58.5%) is used to generate electricity and heat.


OECD vs Non-OECD sectorial consumption of renewable energy in 2013

The new data are available in detail from the Renewable Information 2015 and Electricity Information 2015 databases and books. Summaries of the findings are available for free download for Renewable  and for Electricity. All 2014 data are provisional.