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Low-Carbon Power: Monitor the Transition to Low Carbon Energy

Electricity in The World in 2023

39.6% #86 Low-carbon electricity
409.67 watts #91 Generation / person
429.67 gCO2eq/kWh #104 Carbon Intensity

More than half of the world's electricity is still produced by fossil fuels, which account for around 60% of total consumption. Coal is the primary source, contributing slightly more than a third to the mix, while gas supplies nearly a quarter. On the other hand, low-carbon energy sources make up almost 40% of the electricity consumed globally. Hydropower leads in this category, providing close to 15%, followed by nuclear and wind power, which each produce above 8%, and solar, contributing just over 5%. Biofuels, though categorised as low-carbon, play a minor role in electricity production, making up less than 2%.


Looking at successful countries, there are models The World could learn from to increase low-carbon electricity generation. Notably, France demonstrates the potential of nuclear energy with a whopping 66% of its electricity derived from this source. Slovakia and Ukraine also employ nuclear on a significant scale, generating 61% and 58% respectively of their electricity this way. Wind energy has been effectively harnessed in Denmark, where it makes up 59% of electricity production. Wind also contributes significantly to the electricity grids in Uruguay and Ireland, providing 40% and 35% respectively. Sunny Greece stands out with 19% of its power hailing from solar, closely followed by Australia and Chile at 18%.


The history of low-carbon electricity in The World is characterised by fluctuating production levels. The first substantial advance came in the 1980s, through hydropower and nuclear. Hydropower saw a major surge in 1980, and nuclear had significant increases in 1984 and 1985, although there was a significant decline in 1988. A leap in hydropower production was seen again in 2004 and 2010. However, in 2011 there was a dramatic fall in nuclear production, which warrants scrutiny. Since then, the focus seems to have shifted towards wind and solar. Wind power started to climb in 2017 and kept rising until 2021. Similarly, solar production has been on an upward trend since 2020, even exceeding wind in 2023. However, that same year saw a dip in hydropower, while nuclear power has yet to reclaim its former prominence.

Data Sources

For the years 1971 to 1979 the data source is World Bank.
For the years 1980 to 1984 the data source is EIA.
For the years 1985 to 1989 the data source is Energy Institute.
For the years 1990 to 2018 the data source is IEA.
For the years 2019 to 2022 the data source is Energy Institute.
For the year 2023 the data source is Ember.
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