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World gross electricity generation by source (1985-2015)

World gross electricity generation by source (1985-2015)
Figure 1 ()


  • Graph data are taken from the publication "Statistical Review of World Energy 2016" on the BP website. In particular, the "Data workbook" file was used.

    2014 2015 Change

    TWh TWh TWh %
    Fossil Fuels 16.043 15.962 -81
    Hydro 3.908 3.946 38
    Other Renewables
    1.399 1.612 213
    Tot. Renewables 5.307 5.559 251
    Nuclear 2.543 2.577 34
    Tot. Generation 23.894 24.098 204

* * * * *

World gross electricity generation by source (1985-2015) - Shares
Figure 2 ()

As you can see renewable energy production has started to grow at a more sustained pace since 2004. In this period the contribution of hydropower and other renewable sources is pretty much the same even if the latter show a tendency to acceleration.

Nuclear shows stronger growth until the end of the 80s (see chart on the installed reactors) and it shows a more modest growth thereafter. In absolute terms production reaches a peak in 2006 with 2,806 TWh, while in relative terms the highest percentage is reached in 1996 with 17.6%. Since 2007, then, nuclear has maintained a slight tendency to decline, most evident in 2011-12 due to the nuclear accident happened in Japan. From 2013 there is a slight recovery but the values ​​remain for now always well below the peak.

The total generation (or consumption) has always maintained a much higher pace than that of nuclear power and renewable thus leaving ample space to generation based on fossil fuels. Only in recent years there is a certain sign of fossil generation "fatigue" caused by the faster growth of renewables. But you need a slowdown in consumption to allow renewable forcing fossil fuels to a negative change in 2015. It's the first time it happens in a context of growing consumption.
It is evident, however, that the reduced consumption is essential to see a replacement of fossil fuels with renewable (or nuclear), unless these alternative sources do not begin to grow in the future at rates higher than those seen so far.