Energy Transition Knowledge Series

QUIZ 1: Which % of the worldwide electricity generated in 2020 was produced by Thermal Power Plants?

During the last 37 years, Thermal Power Plants (coal + gas+ oil) have produced between 61% and 68% of the worldwide annual electricity (averaging 64%). Particularly, during the pandemic, in both 2020 and 2021, it was 61%. Thus the best answer for the quiz was “64%“.

We must highlight that most of the voters chose scenarios where the majority of the electricity is generated through thermal power.

Quiz 1 results

This percentage is decreasing and many of the international climate targets are linked with its relative weight in the electricity mix, not an absolute value. And this is a trick.

The overall amount of electricity produced by Thermal has been over 15,000 TWh during the last 10 years (see red box in the graph below). It is true that renewable energy has added a lot of extra capacity to the base so we all guess Thermal generation is decreasing but it is not.

We have high expectations on Wind + Solar, but the fact is that they are still only 11% of the whole mix.

If we want to replace Thermal Power with Renewables, and particularly with Wind and Solar, we do have a challenge, both technological and economical

You can see in this graph how the Top 10 Countries by amount of Thermal Power produced have evolved during the last 20 years. And you see how the collective power of these Top 10 has been growing and growing: