Power-hungry China leads the way in global energy production as NS Energy profiles the world's top five electricity-generating nations


The total electricity generated across the world was 26,614.8TWh in 2018 (Credit: Pixabay)

With a seemingly insatiable demand for energy to power the global economy, NS Energy profiles the top five electricity producing nations around the globe — as the world enters an unprecedented period of shifting priorities from traditional to renewable solutions.

When it comes to regional share, the Asia Pacific region claimed 12,273.6 terawatt-hour (TWh) and a 46.1% share in the world’s total electricity generation last year, followed by North America with 5,447.3TWh and a 20.5% share of the global total.

Africa generated the least power in 2018 at 853.7TWh — however, this figure equates to a healthy 2.9% increase over the previous year.

Driven by growing concerns towards climate change, the world’s renewable energy generation grew 14.5% to 2,480.4TWh in 2018, according to BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2019 report.

Here we look at where the power currently lies around the world.

China – 7,111.8TWh

China is by far the world’s most prolific producer of electricity, generating a significant amount of its power from coal followed by hydroelectricity.

The country operates one of the biggest coal-powered plants in the world, the 6.7 gigawatt (GW) Datang Tuoketuo facility in Inner Mongolia. The fuel is sourced from the Junggar Coalfield located 50km from the plant.

China is also the largest renewable energy producer in the world, with a generation capacity twice that of the US — which is ranked second in the world. The country generates nearly half of its renewable energy from hydropower plants. Its installed renewable energy generation capacity stood at 695.8GW in 2018, according to a report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

The country operates some of the largest hydropower projects in the world, which includes the 22.5GW Three Gorges hydroelectric power complex.

Wind and solar are the other major sources of renewable energy in China. The country is home to the world’s biggest photovoltaic power plant, the 1.54GW Tengger Desert Solar Park in Ningxia.

The Three Gorges Dam (Credit: Allen Watkin from London, UK/Wikipedia.org)


US – 4,460.8TWh

The US is the second-largest producer of electricity in the world. The country produces 35% of its power from natural gas and other gases, along with 27% from coal.

Nuclear power plants generate nearly 20% of the country’s total electricity, according to the figures provided by the US Energy Information Administration.

Some of the biggest nuclear power plants in the US include the 3.9GW Palo Verde Generating Station located nearly 88.5km west of downtown Phoenix near the town of Wintersburg, Arizona, and the 3.4GWthe Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant located on the Tennessee River near Decatur and Athens, Alabama.

The country’s major coal power plants include the 3.6GW Robert W Scherer Power Plant — which can supply enough energy to power nearly 1.5 million homes — the 3.3GW Monroe Power Plant, owned by the DTE Energy Electric Company, and the 3.3GW Plant Bowen.

Some of the biggest solar and wind power facilities in the country include:

  • the 579MW Solar Star power plant,
  • the 552MWCopper Mountain Solar facility,
  • the 550MW Topaz Solar Farm,
  • the 1,5GW Alta Wind Energy Centre,
  • the 910MW Los Vientos Wind Farm,
  • and the 845MW Shepherds Flat Wind Farm.


India – 1,561.1TWh

India is third in the list of global electricity producers, generating a significant amount of its power from coal — with more than 65% of the country’s electricity coming from thermal power plants.

Some of it biggest thermal power plants include the 4.7GW Vindhyachal Thermal Power Station in the Singrauli district of Madhya Pradesh, the 4.6GW Mundra Thermal Power Station located in the Kutch district of Gujarat and the 4GW Mundra Ultra Mega Power Plant (UMPP), also located in the Kutch district of Gujarat.

India also generates a considerable amount of electricity from hydropower, including: the 1.45GW Sardar Sarovar project in Gujarat operated by Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam, the 816MW Nagarjuna Sagar project in Telangana operated by TSGENCO, and the 435MW Bansagar project owned by the Madhya Pradesh Water Resources Department.

Power produced by wind and solar facilities account for 29.8% and 22.8%, respectively, of the country’s total renewable energy capacity. The 1.5GW Muppandal wind farm in Tamil Nadu developed by the Tamil Nadu Energy Development Agency, the 1.27GW Jaisalmer Wind Park in Rajasthan developed by Suzlon Energy, and the 528MW Brahmanvel wind farm developed by Parakh Agro Industries in Maharashtra are its major wind power facilities.

The 1GW Kurnool Ultra Mega Solar Park in Andhra Pradesh owned by the Andhra Pradesh Solar Power Corporation (APSPCL) is one of the biggest solar facilities in the country.

Field and wind turbines in India (Credit: Yahoo! Blog from Sunnyvale, California, USA/Wikipedia.org)


Russia – 1,110.8TWh

Russia is the fourth largest electricity generating country in the world, with a production of 1,110.8TWh in 2018. The country accounts for 4.2% of the total electricity generation in the world.

The country has an installed electricity generation capacity of more than 220GW coming from nearly 440 power plants.

Most of the power generation in Russia is from gas- and coal-fired plants, while renewable energy generation contributed only 1.3TWh in 2018. However, there was a 10.5% growth in power generated from renewable sources in 2018 compared with 2017.

When it comes to nuclear power, Russia has 31 reactors in operation with an installed power generation capacity of 21GW.

Overall, the largest power plant in Russia is the 6.4GW Sayano-Shushenskaya hydropower project, built along the Yenisei River, near Sayanogorsk in Khakassia. Operating since 1978, the Sayano-Shushenskaya hydropower project contributes around 23.5TWh of electricity generation annually in Russia.

Other major power plants in Russia are the 6GW Krasnoyarsk Hydroelectric Power Station, the 4GW Balakovo Nuclear Power Plant, and the 3.6GW gas-fired Kostroma Power Station.


Japan – 1,051.6TWh

Japan is the fifth-largest electricity generating country in the world with a production of 1,051.6TWh in 2018. The East Asian country has a 4% share of the overall electricity generation in the world.

The country’s electricity generation from renewable sources in 2018 stood at 112.1TWh, an increase of 13.5% from 2017.

Until the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in 2011, Japan had traditionally depended on nuclear power generation, as the country does not have abundant quantities of domestic reserves of fossil fuel, crude oil and natural gas.

According to The Federation of Electric Power Companies of Japan (FEPC), the East Asian country depends on imports for 94% of its main energy supply needs.

Other than nuclear power, hydroelectric and solar plants make a significant contribution to Japan’s power generation.

Japan is home to one of the 10 largest power plants in the world, the 7.96GW Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant, on the coast of the Sea of Japan, in Niigata Prefecture.