Sources of electricity generation

Electricity can be generated in two main ways: by harnessing the heat from burning fuels or nuclear reactions in the form of steam (thermal power) or by capturing the energy of natural forces such as the sun, wind or moving water.

Total electricity production

Electricity production tends to closely match demand, which in turn is driven by economic and population growth and changes to the structure of the economy.

Electricity imports and exports

Unlike other energy commodities such as coal, oil and natural gas, electricity trade between countries is relatively limited as it is more technically complex and requires a direct cross-border interconnection. Such connections can help to balance out supply and demand across regions, which will be increasingly important as variable renewables like solar and wind make up a larger share of electricity generation.

CO2 emissions from power generation

Power generation, which includes electricity and heat, is one of the largest sources of CO2 emissions globally, primarily from the burning of fossil fuels like coal and natural gas in thermal power plants.

Per-capita electricity consumption

Growth in electricity demand has slowed down or even reversed in many advanced economies due to energy efficiency efforts and the shift towards less energy-intensive forms of economic activity, such as services. But it is still growing rapidly in many emerging market and developing countries, especially those where a significant fraction of the population still lacks access to electricity.

Final consumption of electricity

Electricity is primarily used for heating, cooling, lighting, cooking and to power devices, appliances and industrial equipment. Further electrification of end-uses, especially transportation, in conjunction with the decarbonisation of electricity generation, is an important pillar of clean energy transitions.