Renewables: share of global energy and electricity by country?

Renewables share of global energy

This data-file is an Excel “visualizer” for some of the key headline metrics around renewables’ share of global energy: such as total global energy use, electricity generation by source, wind penetration and solar penetration; broken down country-by-country, and showing how these metrics have changed over time, in an easy-to-compare visual format.


Global useful energy consumption stood at 71,000 TWH in 2021, rising at 2.5% per year in the past decade. It will most likely continue rising to over 100,000 TWH pa by 2050 (data here).

Electricity comprises 40% of total useful energy, with 28,000 TWH generated in 2021, and the remainder is for heat, motion, materials.

Electricity’s 40% share (as a percent of total useful energy) has changed remarkably little over the past decade, in our assessment, although electricity did increase from 15% to 17% of total primary energy.

Wind and solar now comprise 10% of all global electricity, of which two-thirds is wind, one-third is solar; making up 13.5% of OECD electricity and 8% of non-OECD.

Wind and solar’s 10% share is up from 2.3% a decade ago. This 7.7% increase has displaced coal (41% to 36%), but more disappointingly for CO2 intensity, also nuclear (12% to 10%) and hydro (16% to 15%), while natural gas remains at 22-23%.

The “renewables frontier” is that Spain, Portugal and Ireland are generating 30% of their electricity from wind and solar in 2021, followed by the UK, Germany and California at 25-30%. (Denmark has generated 50-60% from wind/solar since 2017, but this high penetration is achieved by exporting power).

Slow-downs. The ramp to 20-25% occurred more quickly in some of these countries, while the subsequent ramp to 25-30% sometimes (not always) occurred more slowly, and this may be the time that storage and demand-shifting start becoming more important.

Intermittency markets? Most countries in our screen are on course to reach 30% wind and solar penetrations within 5-10 years, again suggesting the dawn of demand-shifting, storage and intermittency solutions in this timeframe.

The cleanest grids in the world, however, belong to Norway (91% hydro, 8% wind) and Sweden (42% hydro, 31% nuclear, 16% wind), where nuclear and hydro can also buffer renewables (note here).

China, India and Indonesia together comprise c40% of global electricity and retain over c60% coal in their power mixes.

Despite rising renewables, coal-fired electricity, gas-fired electricity, total oil, coal and gas use are all making new highs in 2021-22. Our overview of China’s coal trajectory is here.

The source for this visualizer into renewables’ share of global energy is the exceptionally useful and thorough data provided in BP’s Statistical Review of World Energy (linked here). The analysis, data-scrubbing and visualizations are our own.

To read our recent commentary on renewables share of global energy, please see our article here.

Utility-scale solar power: the economics?

This model indicates the economics of a typical utility-scale solar project, as a function of a dozen economic inputs: capex costs per MW, power prices, solar insolation, panel efficiency, decline rates, curtailment, opex, DD&A, loan metrics and tax rates.


Capex costs are also disaggregated across a dozen categories, derived from technical papers and our own calculations (chart below).

Our base case calculations show utility scale can be extremely economic on a standalone basis, with 10% levered returns achieved at 4-7c/kWh input prices.

However, it is interesting to note how quickly the economics deteriorate: by c3-5c/kWh in areas where solar penetration is already high; and by 5-7c/kWh in less sunny locations. There is also a 3-4% risk to IRRs if projects have been under-written with unrealistic decline rates.

Copyright: Thunder Said Energy, 2022.