The amount of electricity generated by a country,
and the breakdown of that production by type of fuel, reflects the natural resources,
imported energy, national policies on security of energy supply, population size,
electrification rate as well as the stage of development and rate of growth of the
economy in each country.
The table shows data on electricity generation from
fossil fuels, nuclear, hydro (excluding pumped storage), geothermal, solar, biofuels,
etc. It includes electricity produced in electricity-only plants and in combined heat
and power plants. Both main activity producer and autoproducer plants are included,
where data are available. Main activity producers generate electricity for sale to
third parties as their primary activity. Autoproducers generate electricity wholly or
partly for their own use as an activity which supports their primary activity. Both
types of plants may be privately or publicly owned.
Electricity generation is measured in terawatt
hours, which expresses the generation of 1 terawatt (1012 watts) of electricity for one hour.
Some countries have trouble reporting electricity
generation from autoproducer plants. In some non-member countries it is also difficult
to obtain information on electricity generated by biofuels and waste.
World electricity generation rose at an average
annual rate of 3.7% from 1971 to 2010, greater than the 2.2% growth in total
primary energy supply. This increase was largely due to more electrical
appliances, the development of electrical heating in countries and of rural
electrification programmes in developing countries.
The share of electricity production from fossil
fuels has gradually fallen, from just under 75% in 1971 to 67% in 2010. This
decrease was due to a progressive move away from oil, which fell from 20.9% to
Oil for world electricity generation has been
displaced in particular by dramatic growth in nuclear electricity generation,
which rose from 2.1% in 1971 to 17.7% in 1996. However, the share of nuclear has
been falling steadily since then and represented 12.9% in 2010. Global nuclear
power will likely be even lower in 2011 following the tsunami in Japan and the
resulting Fukushima nuclear power plant accident.
Due to large development
programmes in several OECD countries, the share of new and renewable energies,
such as solar, wind, geothermal, biofuels and waste increased. However, these
energy forms remain of limited importance: in 2010, they accounted for only 3.7%
of total electricity production for the world as a whole.