I would like to know what is the % of energy produced per year which is renewable energy (including hydropower, biomass, wind, geothermal, solar) :

  • in the United States
  • in the entire world


And also: in the ranking of countries with the greatest proportion of produced energy being renewable energy, how does the United States fare? Is the United States n°1?

  • 1
    Hi, welcome to sustainability SE! I'd advise asking about energy used, rather than energy "produced", as it may result in fewer ambiguities in how things are measured, and also avoid questions over how imports and exports are treated. You may also want to clarify whether you mean all energy use, or just electricity. And to answer your final question: No, the USA is definitely not #1 ;-)
    – Flyto
    Nov 24, 2014 at 10:04

1 Answer 1



No, the USA is nowhere near the top of the rankings for renewables as a proportion of supply, either on an all-energy supply (where it was 91st out of 141 countries in 2012) or an electricity-only basis (where it was 84th out of 141 countries in 2012). It's well below the global average in each case. Note that because of the sheer scale of its energy supply, the USA is very close to (but not at) the top of the table for absolute renewables supply: on an all-energy basis, it was third behind China and India; for electricity it was second behind China.


Globally, the International Energy Agency tend to produce the most cited figures, but usually have a lag of a couple of years in publishing the numbers.

From the IEA's World Energy Balances 2014, the figures for 2012 (expressed as mean power for the year, 2 significant figures, and converted to mean TW):

global all-energy produced

  • all sources: 17.8 TW
  • renewables: 2.3 TW
  • renewables share: 13%

USA all energy produced

  • all sources: 2.4 TW
  • renewables: 0.17 TW
  • renewables share: 7%

On renewables as a share of all-energy supply, the USA was 99th out of 141 countries in 2012. As a share of production, it was 107th out of 141 countries.

global electricity

  • all sources: 2.6 TW
  • renewables: 0.54 TW
  • renewables share: 21%

USA electricity

  • all sources: 0.49 TW
  • renewables: 0.058 TW
  • renewables share: 12%

The USA was 84th out 141 in the table of countries sorted by descending share of renewables in electricity generation.


Let's distinguish energy and electricity, as they are different things. Electricity is only a small part of all energy. There are countries such as Norway where ~99% of electricity is from renewables, but renewables form a much smaller proportion of total Norwegian energy consumption. And there are places where biomass forms a big proportion of overall energy supply, but renewables form a small proportion of electricity supply.

Electricity generated and electricity consumed tend to be very similar numbers - the latter is 5-15% lower, due to losses in transmission, and electricity consumption at the generators themselves. Whereas energy generated and consumed tend to be very different - conversion losses and energy-supply-chain consumption tend to be of the order of 30-40% of total energy generated. For technologies where a lot of the energy is wasted, you get huge differences between the quantity of energy produced and quantity of electricity generated; for example, only a third of nuclear "energy produced" is useful electricity - the rest is heat dissipated in cooling, and some consumption by the plants themselves.

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