Electricity is the set of physical phenomena associated with the presence and motion of matter that has the property of electric charge. Electricity is related to magnetism, both being part of the phenomenon of electromagnetism, as described by Maxwell’s equations. Various common phenomena are related to electricity, including lightning, static electricity, electric heating, electric discharges, and many others.
The presence of an electric charge, which can be either positive or negative, produces an electric field. The movement of electric charges is an electric current and produces a magnetic field.
Asia Pacific commanded a 47 percent share of the electricity generated across the world in 2019 at 12,691 TWh, while North America recorded a 20.1 percent share with 5,425 TWh
China and India are two of the top five largest electricity-generating countries in the world.
Those two emerging economies, which both also rank amongst the highest emitters, are set to play a key role in the energy transition from fossil fuels to renewable technologies.
But, as energy demand continues to grow across the Asia Pacific, several countries across the region have ramped up their production of fossil fuels to keep on top of the ever-increasing demand.
Despite the global efforts to reduce the world’s reliance on high-polluting fossil fuels such as oil, an analysis by energy researcher Wood Mackenzie projected that demand for the fuel in the Asia Pacific could rise by 25 percent by 2040 compared to 2019’s levels.
The region commanded a 47 percent share of the electricity generated across the world in 2019 at 12,691 terawatt hours, according to the BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2020 report. North America, the second largest power-generating region, recorded a 20.1% share with 5,425 TWh.
Top 5 Electricity Generating Countries
China: China is by far the world’s largest producer of electricity, generating a significant portion of its 7,503 TWh of power in 2019 through coal and hydroelectricity. The country is home to the 6.7 gigawatt Datang Tuoketuo facility, the biggest coal-fired power plant in the world.
China has ramped up its share in renewable energy sources over the past few years and currently holds the largest share of wind and solar power technologies.
It operates some of the largest hydropower projects in the world, which includes the 22.5 GW Three Gorges hydroelectric power complex.
The country is looking toward clean energy sources to help decarbonize its electricity grid, with President Xi Jinping announcing ambitions to reach carbon neutrality by 2060 in September 2020.
US: Plant Scherer is the most powerful station of its kind in North America. The US was the second largest producer of electricity in the world in 2020 at 4,401 TWh.
The country produced 35 percent of its power from natural gas and other gases, 23 percent from coal, and almost 20 percent from nuclear power.
Some of the biggest nuclear plants in the US include the 3.9 GW Palo Verde Generating Station near Tonopah, Arizona, and the 3.4 GW Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant on the Tennessee River near Athens, Alabama. The 3.6 GW Scherer Power Plant, which is the nation’s largest coal power plant, supplies enough energy to power nearly 1.5 million homes.
Power plants in the US are large-scale projects requiring a lot of human resources. High demand for employees in this area is an inevitable consequence, which leads to a wide range of vacancies for power plant operators.
India: India, which is third on the list of the top electricity-generating countries, produced a significant amount of its 1,559 TWh of power from coal in 2019. Some of its biggest thermal power plants include the 4.7 GW Vindhyachal Thermal Power Station in the Singrauli district of Madhya Pradesh and the 4.6 GW Mundra Thermal Power Station in the Kutch district of Gujarat. India also generates a considerable amount of electricity from hydropower, with the 1.45 GW Sardar Sarovar project in Gujarat the largest facility of its kind in the country.
The nation has placed high hopes on solar power delivering a large portion of its 450 GW renewable energy target by 2030 as it aims to reduce its fossil-fuel reliance. India currently stands third in Asia and fourth in the world in terms of solar power production across its plants, with solar accounting for about 38 percent of its total renewable energy capacity.
Russia: Russia is the fourth largest electricity generating country, with a production of 1,118 TWh in 2020, accounting for 4.1 percent of the world’s total power generation. The nation has an installed electricity generation capacity of more than 220GW coming from nearly 440 power plants. Most of the power generation in Russia comes from gas and coal-fired plants, while renewable energy generated about 17 percent of the country’s power in 2019.
In terms of nuclear power, Russia has 31 reactors in operation with an installed power generation capacity of 21GW. The largest power plant in the country is the 6.4 GW Sayano Shushenskaya hydropower project, built along the Yenisei River, near Sayanogorsk in Khakassia. Operating since 1978, the facility contributes to about 23.5 TWh of electricity generation in Russia.
Japan: Japan is the fifth-largest electricity-generating country, with a production of 1,036 TWh in 2019, accounting for 3.8% of the world’s overall power generation. Until the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in 2011, the nation had traditionally depended on nuclear power generation, as the country does not have abundant quantities of domestic reserves of crude oil and natural gas. More than a third of its electricity is generated through fossil fuels, but hydroelectric and solar power are continuing to increase their stake in the nation’s energy mix. The 7.96 GW Kashiwazaki Kariwa plant, in Niigata Prefecture, is the largest nuclear power facility in the world.
Top Electricity Consuming Countries
Electricity consumption across the world is continuing to increase at a rate faster than expected. It is measured in kilowatt-hours and represents the amount of electricity consumed over a given time frame.
Global electricity consumption is continuing to increase around the world, with most of it currently generated by burning fossil fuels such as coal and oil. However, clean energy sources are being scaled up across many nations as the world tackles the impact of climate change. Renewable, nuclear, and other non-fossil fuel sources now account for a growing share of global energy consumption. The number of countries that exclusively consume fossil fuels has dwindled in recent years. Most countries are now prioritizing investments in renewable energy to reduce their reliance on damaging fossil fuels. Renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, and hydropower are predicted to account for more than half of worldwide electricity production by 2035.
China: Asian powerhouse China tops the world’s list in electricity consumption, using more than 6.3 trillion kilowatts of energy per hour annually. The country, which is claimed to be the world’s largest producer and consumer of coal, has shifted its focus to natural gas and renewable sources in recent years. The State Grid and the China Southern Power Grid are the country’s two wide-area synchronous grids. The northern power grids were synchronized in 2005. All Chinese provinces have been interlinked since 2011. China the largest importer of oil and natural gas in the world accounts for about 24 percent of global energy consumption.
United States of America: The US stands second in the world’s electricity consumption list with more than 3.9 trillion kilowatt hours used every year. Electricity use in the country is reported to have surged 13-fold since 1950, and consumption is predicted to keep growing in the coming decades. Total energy use in the US has experienced steady growth since 1975, reaching an all-time high in 2018. The US energy production as a share of consumption is projected to increase to 115 percent by 2040, according to BP’s 2019 Energy Outlook. Electricity use in the US is reported to have surged 13-fold since 1950.
India: As the world’s second most populated country, India sits third in the list of top electricity-consuming countries at 1.54 trillion kWh per year. The electricity consumption in the country is expected to reach 4 trillion units by 2030. The country’s electricity sector is dominated by fossil fuels, especially coal. The Government of India is making efforts to increase investment in renewable energy with a target of 175GW capacity by 2022. India is seeking to increase investment in renewable energy.
Russia: Russia’s electricity consumption makes it the globe’s fourth-largest, with 1.06 trillion kWh per year. Russia, which has abundant energy resources, has the largest known natural gas reserves of any nation. It is the largest oil producer in the non-OPEC countries and the second biggest in the world after Saudi Arabia. This European country is one of the top 10 coal producers and consumers. Russia has been making significant efforts for greater renewable energy investment despite the dominance of fossil fuels in its energy mix.
Japan: Japan is the fifth largest electricity-consuming country in the world with 0.93 trillion kWh used annually. The country, which has long been a major consumer and importer of energy, is the third biggest oil consumer and the fourth biggest coal consumer in the world. Japan has separate eastern and western grids, unlike most other industrialized countries that typically have a single national grid. Since the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in March 2011, Japan has experienced significant rises in electricity consumption and generation. The country depends mostly on pumped-storage hydroelectricity for balancing demand and supply.