Global Electricity Review 2021

Wind and solar drive a record fall in coal in 2020

But only because the pandemic pressed pause on rising electricity demand


Pandemic paused demand growth

Global electricity demand fell slightly (-0.1%) in 2020, the first fall since 2009.


Wind and solar showed resilient growth

Wind and solar generation rose by 15% to produce a tenth of global electricity. 


Wind and solar pushed coal to a record fall

Coal fell a record 4% (-346 TWh), similar to the rise in wind and solar (+314 TWh).


China alone in G20 for growing coal

Coal generation rose in China by 2% in 2020, while falling elsewhere.


Global emissions still higher than 2015

Coal generation has only fallen 0.8% since 2015, while fossil gas rose 11%.

“Progress is nowhere near fast enough. Despite coal’s record drop during the pandemic, it still fell short of what is needed. Coal power needs to collapse by 80% by 2030 to avoid dangerous levels of warming above 1.5 degrees. We need to build enough clean electricity to simultaneously replace coal and electrify the global economy. World leaders have yet to wake up to the enormity of the challenge.”

Dave Jones

Global Programme Lead, Ember

2020 Status: Global transition to fossil-free electricity


Fossil fuels



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Cover of Ember's report: India, Peaking Coal?

This report showcases a global dataset for electricity generation & demand across 217 countries from 2000 to 2020. Data for 2020 covers 90% of the world’s electricity production.

Each year, we aim to be the earliest authoritative report to give insights into last year’s global electricity generation changes – offering an unbiased picture of the transition to fossil-free electricity.

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