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Global power mix by energy source 2018

Conventional fuels remain the greatest contributor to electricity generation worldwide. In 2018, coal, peat, and oil shales accounted for 38 percent of the power mix. Fossil fuel use notwithstanding, the share of renewables in global electricity generation has seen a more pronounced year-on-year growth in recent years, following increased efforts by governments to combat global warming and a decrease in levelized costs. By 2050, projections of world electricity generation show renewables to have succeeded fossil fuels as the main power source.

How is electricity generated?

An electricity generator converts a form of energy into electricity through mechanical energy. One of the most common generators uses an electromagnet, which produces several small currents as it rotates. These smaller currents combine to form a larger current that becomes the electricity for consumers to use. Commonly, electricity generation is elicited through power plants that use a turbine or other machinery to drive the generators. Different energy sources require different methods to harness their energy. Fossil fuels like coal and natural gas are burned, nuclear power relies on nuclear fission, and geothermal power plants utilize heat in areas near tectonic plate boundaries - all constitute thermal energy, which is fed through a steam turbine generating electricity.
Other types of turbines are hydroelectric turbines and wind turbines. Energy sources, such as solar photovoltaic cells, do not depend on turbines and can convert sunlight directly into electricity through collectors.

China is the greatest consumer of electricity in the world, requiring nearly 6,900 terawatt hours of electricity every year.

Distribution of electricity generation worldwide in 2018, by energy source

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Release date

February 2021



Survey time period


Supplementary notes

Figures manually calculated by Statista. Figures do not sum 100 due to rounding.

* Other sources includes solar thermal, tide, chemical heat and similar fuel.

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