Renewable energy policy is very much determined nationally, and therefore it makes sense to look at individual countries’ development rather than aggregate developments for the world.

Development of the share of wind energy in total electricity production for the largest electricity using countries – based on BP data.


The BP Statistical Review of World Energy is always the first to publish widely available energy statistics – and since a few years, they also include renewable energy [1]. In the graph above, I have depicted the development of electricity production by wind turbines as a fraction of total power generation for the 25 countries with the largest total electricity production (countries with very low wind energy fractions are not mentioned in the graph).

We have seen a dramatic development in this century. In the year 2000, only two of the major electricity producing countries had a very modest share (2%) of wind energy in their portfolio: Germany and Spain. In 2018, this had grown to 17 – 18%, and the UK joined the club of top-runners. Moreover, many of the major economies now have significant shares of 4 – 8%. The average global share of wind energy in power generation was 4.8% in 2018.

Development of the share of solar energy in total electricity production for the largest electricity using countries – based on BP data.


For solar energy, we see a delayed, but not less dramatic development, see the graph above. In this case, it took until 2008 – 2010 before the first countries passed the 2% mark. In the top-3 countries, the share of solar energy is now 7 – 8%. Many of the major countries are now in the 2 – 5% range. Global average share of solar energy in electricity production was 2.2% in 2018.

Whereas the global development pathways of solar and wind energy show a smooth pathway, reality at the country level is quite different. If we look country-by-country, a smooth development is rather the exception than the rule. As the IEA already concluded, it is stop-go policies that seem to frustrate renewable energy development almost everywhere. The good news is that it is possible to grow the deployment of solar and wind energy by several percent-points of electricity production per year. The big question is: how can we prolong such development over periods of at least one decade?

The other thing we learn from this overview is: there are still quite a few countries that have done close to nothing so far. Countries with a share of less than 1% of solar and wind in power generation are: Indonesia, Iran, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Vietnam. The latter country, however, is booming in 2019 and will add solar capacity good for several percent of its power generation. How to avoid that this also becomes a one-off effort?

The data for the pictures in this weblog were taken from the spreadsheets provided online by BP. Thanks to Jessie Bradley for the help with the data analysis.

[1] The BP Statistical Review of World Energy is used, as this is a readily and quickly available source for all countries. For some countries I checked against national sources; the numbers are slightly different, but development pattern over time are similar.