It is almost impossible for modern life to exist without electricity. Almost everything is supported by electricity, from the most basic light bulb, to the most complex electrical systems in buildings, enabling people to live meters above or below ground level. Basic tools for living, work and play are electronic- smart phones, tablets, computers, and even toothbrushes are all charged and used with electricity. Technological advancement and the rapid urbanization all around the world contribute to very high global energy demands.
Electricity can be generated from many sources. Fossil fuels like coal and natural gas are still the most widely used energy source all over the world, amidst movements towards greener energy by electricity producing countries. Which countries generate the most electricity and what do they use? The following list shows the top 10 electricity producing countries in 2013, according to the World Bank’s statistics:
No. 1: United States of America
Topping the list of the world’s largest electricity producing countries is the United States, generating 4,320.9 billion kwh in 2013, just a little above China. 43.4 percent of their total generation is from coal, followed by natural gas which accounts for 24.2 percent. Nuclear power is also used, and other renewable sources include biomass, geothermal, wind and solar energy. Despite being the largest producer of electricity, the United States continues to import energy from Canada to meet energy demands.
No. 2: China
China’s energy sector relies heavily on fossil fuels, particularly coal. Due to the rapid rise of its economy, China’s generating capacity increased and is now almost equal to that of the United States. In 2013, it produced 4,208 billion kwh, with coal accounting for 77.8 percent of total energy generation. This is the highest among the electricity producing countries. Despite its heavy reliance on fossil fuels, the country is heading towards the use of nuclear, natural gas and other renewable energy sources to decrease pollution and carbon emissions.
Before the Fukushima Daiichi incident in 2011, Japan was the third-largest producer of nuclear energy, second to France and the United States. After the incident, Japan remained in the list of top electricity producing countries, but its energy source shifted to fossil fuels, particularly liquefied natural gas. They produced 1,049.6 billion kwh in 2013, with coal and natural gases accounting for 34 percent of total generation each. The Japanese government however, as a part of its revised energy plan, is trying to encourage the use of renewable sources such as geothermal, wind, solar and biomass.
Russia is a top producer of oil, gas and electricity in the world. It generated 1,036 billion kwh in 2013, with natural gas accounting for 50.2 percent of total energy generation. This is followed by coal, hydroelectric and nuclear energy which accounts for about 48 percent of energy production. Russia exports electricity mainly to Finland, China and Lithuania. It also exports to Ukraine, Georgia and Azerbaijan.
No. 5: India
India is among the top consumers of electricity in the world, following Russia, China, and the United States. It is fifth among the top 10 electricity producing countries, with 959.9 billion kwh in 2013. However, a 2012 report said that almost 25 percent of the population lacked basic access to electricity. The country also suffered blackouts, which is probably due to insufficient fuel supply. India’s primary source of fuel is coal and biomass, but still imports great amounts of crude oil. New movements are being made by the government towards energy independence by increasing hydrocarbon production.
No. 6: Canada
Canada primarily imports net energy to the United States, and generated 635.8 billion kwh in 2013. Though Canada is among the top producers of oil and natural gases, much of its electricity generation comes from hydroelectric plants. Hydroelectric power accounts for 59.2 percent of its total electricity production. This is the second highest hydroelectric capacity among the top electricity producing countries. Canada is also a large and emergent producer of wind energy.
No. 7: Germany
Germany was the eight-largest energy consumer in the world in 2012. It also held the fifth-largest nuclear energy generator in the world, but it was closed down after the Fukushima Accident in 2011. Public protests forced the government to shut down nuclear plants and coal was used as substitute for power generation. Germany produced 608.3 billion kwh in 2013, with coal accounting for 45.8 percent of total energy produced. In spite of the heavy use of fossil fuels, Germany is a world and regional leader in non-hydro renewable energy sources, particularly solar and wind.
No. 8: France
France holds the second-largest nuclear capacity in the world, second only to the United States. 79.4 percent of its 557.4 billion kwh production in 2013 came from nuclear plants. The country is the third top exporter of net energy in 2012, following Germany and Canada. France also produces a significant amount of energy from renewable resources, such as biofuel.
No. 9: Brazil
Brazil is the ninth largest electricity producer, and is among the highest energy consumers in the world. Though the country has significant oil reserves, its electricity generation relies heavily on hydroelectric power: 78.2 percent of its 515.7 billion kwh generation in 2013 came from hydroelectric plants, the highest among the top electricity producing countries. Brazil is planning bigger hydroelectric projects, notably the Belo Monte plant which is poised to be the third-largest hydroelectric plant in the world.
No. 10: South Korea
Despite limitations and lack of domestic reserves, South Korea ranks tenth in the list of the top electricity producing countries in the world, generating 515.5 billion kwh in 2013. The country is one of the largest importers of oil, coal and liquefied natural gas. In spite of having little domestic reserves, South Korea has one of the most advanced oil refineries in the world. Its economy, which relies significantly on the exportation of semiconductors and electronics, drives the increase of energy consumption. Because of the continuing rise in energy demand, the government is currently promoting energy-efficiency strategies, demand-management and renewable energy sources.