Energy Transition

These are the countries leading the clean energy race

Workers clean photovoltaic panels inside a solar power plant in Gujarat, India, in this July 2, 2015 file photo. The likely collapse of SunEdison Inc's solar project in India, the first of 32 planned "ultra mega" complexes, could delay Prime Minister Narendra Modi's goal to increase renewable energy fivefold by several years and probably cost consumers more. REUTERS/Amit Dave/Files - GF10000372053

If costs continue to fall, it will mean more accessible clean energy for any country that wants it. Image: REUTERS/Amit Dave

Jeff Desjardins
Founder and editor, Visual Capitalist
Share:
Our Impact
What's the World Economic Forum doing to accelerate action on Energy Transition?
The Big Picture
Explore and monitor how Energy Transition is affecting economies, industries and global issues
A hand holding a looking glass by a lake
Crowdsource Innovation
Get involved with our crowdsourced digital platform to deliver impact at scale
Stay up to date:

Decarbonizing Energy

The Race for Clean Energy

To see the full resolution version of this infographic that has higher legibility, click here.

Last year, on a global basis, more net power generating capacity was added through renewable sources than via all other power sources combined.

Which countries are leading this charge, and what power sources are being adopted the fastest?

Today’s infographic comes to us Raconteur, and it breaks down various metrics around energy investment. The graphic looks at absolute and per capita power consumption by countries, as well as dollars being invested into each particular type of green energy.

Image: Visual Capitalist

Country comparisons

The two countries that lead the pack in absolute terms are China and the United States. In 2016, China consumed the equivalent of 349.2 million tonnes of oil in renewable energy, while the U.S. was at 143 million tonnes.

However, these numbers are very skewed by the large populations of these countries. In percentage terms, China only gets 11.4% of its primary energy from renewables, while the U.S. gets 6.3% of its mix from sources like solar and wind.

Have you read?

On a per capita basis, major economies leading the world include countries like Norway, Canada, Sweden, Brazil, and Austria – all of these countries get about 30% or more of their primary energy from renewables. That said, it is also worth noting that hydropower makes up a large degree of the energy mixes for many of these places.

Clean investments

2016 was a landmark year for clean energy, with net power capacity additions for renewables topping the list:

Image: Visual Capitalist

Importantly, more green power is being added at lower costs. Below, you can see that the level of investment is actually falling, as utilities get more “bang for the buck” on new capacity added.

Here is the overall investment for each renewable category in 2016:

Image: Visual Capitalist

In 2016, investment in clean energy fell by 18% – however, 138 GW of new power capacity came online from renewable sources (excl. large hydro), which is 11 GW more than in the previous year.

If costs continue to fall, it will mean more accessible clean energy for any country that wants it – and cost efficiency will also make the race to add capacity via renewables much more meaningful and sustainable in the long term.

Don't miss any update on this topic

Create a free account and access your personalized content collection with our latest publications and analyses.

Sign up for free

License and Republishing

World Economic Forum articles may be republished in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Public License, and in accordance with our Terms of Use.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

Related topics:
Energy TransitionNature and Biodiversity
Share:
World Economic Forum logo
Global Agenda

The Agenda Weekly

A weekly update of the most important issues driving the global agenda

Subscribe today

You can unsubscribe at any time using the link in our emails. For more details, review our privacy policy.

4 ways to build social acceptance for critical minerals projects

Felipe Valencia-Dongo

June 20, 2024

About Us

Events

Media

Partners & Members

  • Join Us

Language Editions

Privacy Policy & Terms of Service

© 2024 World Economic Forum