Renewable energy sources are projected to account for more than half of global electricity production by 2035. Power Technology lists the top five renewable energy sources based on global installed power generation capacities as of 2018.
Hydropower is the most widely-used renewable power source, with the global hydroelectric installed capacity exceeding 1,295GW, accounting for more than 18% of the world’s total installed power generation capacity and more than 54% of the global renewable power generation capacity.
The most common method of hydropower generation involves construction of dams on rivers and releasing water from the reservoir to drive turbines. Pumped-storage type plants represent another method of hydroelectricity generation.
China has the biggest hydroelectric generation capacity in the world and hosts the world’s largest hydropower plant, the Three Gorges (22.5GW). The nation accounted for approximately 40% of the total hydroelectric capacity added in the world in 2018. Brazil, the US, Canada, and Russia also have some of the biggest hydropower installations in the world.
“China has the biggest hydroelectric generation capacity in the world.”
Hydropower projects have, however, become controversial during recent years due to the environmental and social impacts related to bio-diversity and human resettlement.
Wind is the second most widely used renewable energy source, as global installed wind power capacity exceeded 563GW in 2018, accounting for approximately 24% of the world’s total renewable energy generation capacity.
China, with an installed capacity of more than 184GW, is the biggest wind energy generator in the world, followed by the US (94GW by the end of 2018). More than half of the 49GW wind power capacity added worldwide in 2018 was in China (20GW) and the US (7GW).
Germany, Spain, India, the UK, Italy, France, Brazil, Canada, and Portugal are the other major wind power-producing countries, which together with China and the US, account for more than 85% of total wind power-producing capacity in the world.