Electricity is a natural force that was first discovered thousands of years ago in Ancient Greece in the form of static. It was not until the 19th century, though, that electricity was fully harnessed for everyday use. Inventions that we take for granted today, such as the lightbulb, changed human history forever. Nowadays, electricity is essential in every sector of modern life – supporting both social and economic development – and life without it has become unimaginable.
The demand for electricity has increased massively in the past four decades. Rising populations, technological advancement, and a widespread usage of consumer electronics has led the global electricity consumption to rise from around 7,300 terawatt hours in 1980 to more than 23,000 terawatt hours in 2018. With millions around the world still lacking electricity access, demand is projected to continue growing in the coming decades. Currently, China is by far the largest electricity consumer worldwide, followed by the U.S. Combined, the two superpowers account for roughly 50 percent of global electricity consumption. When it comes to the electricity consumption per capita, however, the U.S. surpasses China by a wide margin, while Canada leads the ranking, yielding the highest consumption worldwide.
To keep up with the growing demand, global electricity generation reached a high of 26,730 terawatt-hours in 2018, more than double the annual output in the early 1990’s. Electricity can be generated in a number of ways, including energy sources such as fossil fuels, nuclear energy, and renewable energy. As countries seek to reduce their carbon footprint, renewable electricity generation has seen a noticeable increase in the past decade, accounting for over one quarter of the total generation. However, fossil fuels are still the main source of electricity generation worldwide. In 2018, the global installed electricity capacity from fossil fuels was more than four terawatts – roughly twice the installed renewable capacity. In particular coal, the highest greenhouse gas emitter of the group, accounted for around 40 percent of the global power mix that year.
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In the following 5 chapters, you will quickly find the 28 most important statistics relating to "Global electricity".