Clean energy journalism for a cooler tomorrow

Watch this dynamic map of renewable energy growth around the world

Renewable energy is gaining ground around the world. See which countries are shifting most quickly.
By Maria Virginia Olano

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Canary Media’s chart of the week translates crucial data about the clean energy transition into a visual format.

Renewable energy capacity is growing around the globe, but in most countries, it’s still not growing fast enough. This interactive map from 360info, a project of Monash University in Australia, shows how nations’ electricity grids have changed from 2000 to 2021, gradually moving from dirty (brown) toward clean (green).

Around the world, 38 percent of electric generating capacity was renewable in 2021, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency, the source of the map’s data. Pause the animation and hover over a country to get its specific numbers for a given year. In the United States, renewables’ share of electricity-producing capacity rose from 14 percent in 2000 to 29 percent in 2021. China went from 25 percent to 44 percent in the same time period.

The countries with the cleanest grids in 2021 included Paraguay, Ethiopia, Norway and Iceland, all with more than 97 percent of their capacity provided by renewables, thanks in large part to copious hydropower.

On the opposite end of the transition are many countries in the Middle East, North Africa and the Caribbean, some with less than 1 percent renewable electric generation capacity. Saudi Arabia’s electric capacity includes only about half a percent of renewables, but the country has big plans to change that with a target of generating 50 percent of its power from renewables by 2030.

Globally, 81 percent of new capacity added to electric grids in 2021 was renewable, up from 79 percent in 2020. But the trends are not all moving in the right direction. Coal use has ticked up and coal-plant shutdowns have been delayed this year in Europe, where Russia’s war in Ukraine has triggered supply problems and high prices for fossil gas. 

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Maria Virginia Olano is chief of staff at Canary Media.