Fifteenth Inventory - Edition 2013

Worldwide electricity production from renewable energy sources
Stats and figures series

        Logo - Observer.jpg Logo - EDF.jpg Logo - Fondation Energies pour le monde.jpg
Organisation of the study
Methodology elements
Chapter 1
Energy production in the world: general forecasts (.pdf)
Chapter 2
Survey of regional dynamics by sector (.pdf)
Chapter 3
Electricity production from renewable sources: details per region and per country (.pdf)


146, rue de l'Université
75007 Paris
Tél. : + 33 1 44 18 00 80
Fax. : + 33 1 44 18 00 36

Elements of method

Several clarifications about data collection are called for, which cover electricity production from renewable sources, the availability and reliability of statistics and the choice of regions and individual countries from each region.

  • Number rounding rules.

    The unit used in the tables of this inventory is the terawatt hour (TWh). In certain countries and for certain sectors, this unit is too big to grasp the dynamic situation of the sector. The rule we have used is that if the number of the series is lower than 1 TWh, then we use three decimals instead of one to facilitate reading in gigawatt hours (GWh). Example: production of 0.153 TWh corresponds to production of 153 GWh. Reminder: 1 TWh equals 1,000 GWh, 1,000,000 MWh and 1 000 000 000 kWh.

  • Renewable origin electricity production

    Six major sectors are dealt with in this inventory: hydraulic power, geothermal energy, solar energy, wind power, biomass and marine energies. This last sector is only presented for those countries that are developing this energy source for generating electricity. Biomass has been handled specifically as we distinguish between each biomass category: i.e. solid biomass, biogas, renewable household waste and liquid biomass (biofuels). The last category is only inventoried for those countries converting this deposit into electricity. The hydraulic sector refers indiscriminately to both large and small-size hydroelectricity, while distinguishing pumped-storage hydraulic installations. The solar sector is reputed as coming only from photovoltaic power plants (on- or off- grid). In cases when the solar electricity is generated by both photovoltaic power plants and solar thermal (concentrating solar) power plants, the tables distinguish between them.

  • Conventional origin electricity production

    Three sectors have been dealt with in this inventory: fossil fuels, nuclear energy and non-renewable waste. Non-renewable waste has been handled specifically by distinguishing between non-renewable household waste and industrial waste.

  • Statistical sources

    The numbers and figures for wind power, solar and geothermal electricity have been collected and checked by Observ'ER. All figures on nuclear, fossil, hydraulic and biomass electricity come from the database of Enerdata, a company that specialises in worldwide energy data. Some of the data on the OECD countries has been consolidated using recent publications published by the IEA (International Energy Agency).

  • Data reliability
    • for the purpose of estimating photovoltaic solar electricity production we used the consolidated data published by national statistics offices or power grid managers, or alternatively estimates obtained from installed capacities, and have also resorted to load factors in the range 8-17% depending on the country (from 800 hours in Norway to 1,500 hours in Senegal). These load factors are the same as those used by experts, primarily those of the IEA.

    • in the case of wind power, the production data either corresponds to the consolidated data published by national statistics agencies or by power grid managers, or to estimates obtained from installed capacities, and also from the load factors observed during previous years.

  • Choice of regions

    Our description of electricity production at regional level is based on the geographic divisions that are generally accepted in international statistical yearbooks.

  • Choice of countries

    The countries covered in this study were selected because of their importance for regional electricity production and renewable electricity production. The rule we applied thus prompted us to cover more than 85% of the total regional production and most of the renewable electricity production. The table below describes the composition of the different regions and countries covered by this inventory.

  • GDP data

    The GDP (gross domestic product) data given in this inventory is expressed in purchasing power parity (PPP) and 2005 constant dollars. Because of the mechanical weakness of low income countries' currencies, Comparisons made using PPP are more meaningful than those in current exchange rates when countries are very different. Moreover they overcome any sharp exchange rate fluctuations. Thus GDP (PPP) represents gross domestic product converted into international dollars by applying purchasing power parity rates. These rates are defined by the World Bank on the basis of a standard basket of goods. An international dollar thus has the same purchasing power over the GDP of the reporting country as an American dollar in the United States.