Generation of electricity grew by only 1.3% last year, around half of its 10-year average. Growth was weak or negative in most regions, other than in China which increased by 340 TWh (4.7%), accounting for 95% of net global growth (360 TWh).
Renewables provided the largest increment to power generation (340 TWh), followed by natural gas (220 TWh). These gains came partially at the expense of coal generation which fell sharply (-270 TWh), causing the share of coal in power generation to fall by 1.5 percentage points to 36.4% - the lowest in our dataset (which goes back to 1985). Despite this, coal remained the single largest source of power generation in 2019. Meanwhile, the share of renewables in generation increased from 9.3% to 10.4%, surpassing nuclear generation for the first time.
Natural gas is the dominant fuel used for power generation in North America, CIS, the Middle East and Africa. South and Central America gets more than half of its power from hydroelectricity, with a share far higher than any other region. In Asia, coal is the dominant fuel. In Europe, nuclear energy is the top source of electricity, but only just, as generation is spread fairly evenly between five different fuels: the shares of nuclear, coal, natural gas, renewables and hydro are all in a narrow range of 16-23%.
At the global level, coal is the dominant fuel for power generation, however its share fell 1.5 percentage points to 36.4% in 2019, the lowest level in our data series. The shares of both natural gas and renewables rose to record levels last year (to 23.3% and 10.4% respectively) and renewables generation surpassed nuclear for the first time. Regionally, there is significant variation in the penetration of renewables: Europe has the highest penetration at 20.9% - twice the global average, followed by South & Central America at 13.9%.