In 2021, the total electricity consumption in Algeria equaled to 200 watts per person, nearly half of the global average of 412 watts per person. The most significant chunk of this came from fossil energies, specifically gas, making up almost all electricity supply with 198 watts per person. The contribution of low-carbon sources to the total was minimal, with a meager 2.35 watts per person, which is just above 1% of the total electricity generation. Solar energy was almost all of the low-carbon energy source, contributing 2.09 watts per person, while hydro and wind energy were almost non-existent, contributing a combined total of 0.26 watts per person. Algeria's extremely low levels of electricity generation from low-carbon sources risk leaving its population vulnerable to higher energy prices and further environmental damage due to climate change. However, despite the low electricity generation, it's noteworthy that Algeria is a net exporter of electricity.
To substantially increase low-carbon electricity generation, Algeria could look to emulate the approaches of other successful countries that utilize more low-carbon sources, focusing on nuclear, solar and wind energy. Taking into account Algeria's arid climate ideal for harnessing solar energy, it could draw inspiration from Australia, which generates a significant 147 watts per person from solar energy. Respectively, Denmark and Spain, which are somewhat similar to Algeria in terms of population size, manage to generate considerable quantities of electricity from wind power, at 369 and 149 watts per person. More compelling still, it is worth considering nuclear power for electricity generation, as attested by countries such as Sweden, France, and Finland which generate over 500 watts per person from nuclear energy.
Looking back at the history of low-carbon electricity in Algeria, the past four decades have seen a rather slow progress predominantly through hydroelectric power. During the early part of the 1980s, there was some volatility in hydroelectric power generation, with oscillations ranging from an increase of 0.2 terawatt-hours (TWh) in 1981, to a decline of 0.4 TWh in 1986, and again up by 0.2 TWh by 1987. A similar trend continued through the 1990s and early 2000s although the changes were less drastic, with the usage of hydroelectric power usually fluctuating by 0.1 or 0.2 TWh from year to year. It wasn't until 2017 that solar power entered Algeria's electricity generation mix, adding an additional 0.5 TWh in the first year. This marked a notable stride toward diversifying the country's low-carbon energy sources, though the share of solar remained relatively small. The country's move into solar power represents a step forward in sustainable electricity generation, and there is significant room to ramp up efforts in this area, particularly by learning from other countries who have demonstrated success in low-carbon energy generation.