Published on November 7th, 2013 | by Zachary Shahan


18 Fun Renewable Energy Charts From NREL Director Dan Arvizu & Ren21’s Renewables 2013 Global Status Report

November 7th, 2013 by  

I had the good fortune of seeing NREL’s director, Dan Arvizu, give an optimistic renewable energy and cleantech presentation in Abu Dhabi in January. He certainly knows how to pack a presentation full of interesting charts. More recently, Dan gave a presentation in Colorado that I didn’t attend but have the slides for. (Actually, the slides are online [PDF].) Below are a few of my favorite slides from the new presentation, followed by several fun charts and tables from the key findings of Ren21’s Renewables 2013 Global Status Report. (Thanks to a reader for tipping me off to both presentations!)

Renewable Energy Charts & Facts

This first chart is on annual capacity growth rates for renewable energy technologies:

renewable energy growth rate

Here’s a look at the world leaders for specific clean energy technologies (at the end of 2012):

clean energy world leaders 2012

Naturally, the pure capacity leaders are not necessarily the per capita or per GDP leaders — normally they aren’t (a gripe I have with these types of ratings). For the latest on those for wind and solar, see:

  1. Top Solar Power Countries
  2. Top Wind Power Countries Per Capita
  3. Top Wind Power Countries Per GDP

The next chart, moving away from renewables to energy use on the consumer level, is a super fun one in my opinion. Ever wonder where homes & businesses are using their energy? This chart has the details:

energy consumption in the US

There’s much more in Dan’s presentation, including many slides on NREL’s extremely high-tech, energy-efficient, LEED-platinum campus. Check it all out for more fun.

Below are now charts from Ren21’s Renewables 2013 Global Status Report. As always, I recommend checking out the full report. However, I’ve also gone ahead and pulled out several of my favorite charts to share below. Enjoy! (If you’ve already checked out Dan Arvizu’s presentation, you’ll notice that some of the charts from the Ren21 report were used in that.)

Global Renewable Energy Charts & Facts

Here’s an estimate of renewable energy’s share of electricity production at the end of 2012:

renewable energy split 2012

Non-hydro renewable being at 5.2% can be seen in a positive or a negative way. It’s much higher than it was just a few years ago, but it’s still a relatively small percentage. However you look at it, though, definitely realize that it is growing fast and will for years to come. We’re just getting started!

Here’s an even closer look at global renewable energy capacity, showing the totals by country at the end of the past 3 years:

renewable energy facts

Here’s a look at the world’s non-hydro renewable energy capacity leaders (again, in terms of total not relative capacity):

renewable energy capacity leaders 2012

Here’s a great summary of global renewable energy jobs totals, and totals for some leading economies:

global renewable energy jobs

Renewable Energy Jobs 2012

Here’s a look at how many and which countries have renewable energy policies (early 2013 compared to 2005):

world renewable energy targets

Solar Energy Charts & Facts

Getting into solar energy specifics more, here’s a look at global solar PV capacity growth:

global solar PV capacity growth

That’s a nice curve if I’ve ever seen one!

Here’s a look at solar PV’s global capacity split at the end of 2012:

solar global PV capacity top countries

Here’s a look at the top solar PV module manufacturers at the end of 2012:

top solar pv module manufacturers

Here’s a look at the growth of solar water heating around the world:

solar water heating global capacity growth

Here are the leading solar water heating countries in terms of 2011 additions:

solar water heating 2011 growth leaders

Wow. Go, China!

And this last solar chart shows global solar thermal capacity growth:

global solar thermal power growth

Wowza! And expect 2013’s total to be much bigger.

Wind Power Charts & Facts

Wind power has grown at a similarly impressive rate. Check out these three charts for more on that as well as on the leading wind power countries and companies:

wind power global capacity growth

wind power growth by country

wind turbine manufacturing leaders

If you might want more, check out this brief summary of the Renewables 2013 Global Status Report and then get your butt over to the report’s key findings (or just jump straight over to the full report):

Renewable energy markets, industries, and policy frameworks have evolved rapidly in recent years. The Renewables Global Status Report provides a comprehensive and timely overview of renewable energy market, industry, investment, and policy developments worldwide. It relies on the most recent data available, provided by a network of more than 500 contributors and researchers from around the world, all of which is brought together by a multi-disciplinary authoring team. The report covers recent developments, current status, and key trends; by design, it does not provide analysis or forecasts.

Also see:

  1. About Solar Power
  2. About Wind Power
  3. World Wind Power In 2012 Advances Nearly 20%

Check out our new 93-page EV report, based on over 2,000 surveys collected from EV drivers in 49 of 50 US states, 26 European countries, and 9 Canadian provinces.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) with the power of the typed word. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor, but he's also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession, Solar Love, and Bikocity. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and energy storage expert. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in.

  • Wayne Williamson

    I wish I hadn’t sold my shares of GE several years ago….

  • JMin2020

    It has been very good for Bio Fuels and Solar. I guess we’ll see how large scale wind has done in a later report.

  • tibi stibi

    the solar grow graph is a bit scary. in 2011 there was 31GW installed (from 40 to 71) and in 2012 it was down to 29GW (from 71 to 100).

    any explanation why it declines?

    • Grad

      Probably because of reduction of feed-in-tariffs in Europe.

      But it’s expected to rise 35GW this year and up to 50GW in 2014, and margins have increased to double digit numbers. So PV has a bright future.

  • A heartwarming article Zachary!

    If government subsidies for fossil and nuclear were cut to the same levels as renewables receive, I bet we would be at 95%-100% renewables by 2020.

    Someone CleanTechnica — please, hammer away at that angle — fossil and nuclear subsidies, compared to renewable subsidies.

    Side-by-side, megawatt-by-megawatt comparison charts would be an early Christmas gift to us all.

    Cheers, JBS

  • Chris Marshalk

    What an AMAZING article !!! Go CleanTechnica 🙂 Love the Statistics & Graphs.

  • Senlac

    My head is spinning with all these graphs, because they all look so good. World wide renewables (non-Hydro) were 5.2% in 2012. Will we break 6% after 2013? I put my money on yes.

  • Matt

    We need to grow those dollars/year spent. Which means stronger market signals: cut support to coal/oil/gas, carbon/pollution tax, better building codes (negawatts).

  • JamesWimberley

    Oz economist John Quiggin provides a useful back-of-the envelope calculation to determine when renewables start cutting back coal (
    “Installed global capacity of coal-fired power is of the order of 1000GW. To reduce that, it’s necessary to install enough renewables to meet demand growth. …. 5 per cent growth is 50 GW. if we assume availability of coal is four times that of renewables, we need 200 GW of renewables a year to meet growth.”
    We are now roughly one-third of the way to this milestone. If current growth rates continue – a big if – we will reach the Quiggin point in 2018.

  • Grad

    Wind grew 45GW, PV grew 29GW, which is together 74GW. That’s roughly the same as 10-12GW of nuclear capacity. And how much nuclear was built worldwide in 2012? About 3.7GW, according to

    It doesn’t make sense to go nuclear as a low carbon source. Renewables are already much faster and cheaper.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Bingo! We have a winner.

      And renewables don’t create radioactive waste.

      And they don’t melt down and make waste of the land around them.

    • globi

      According to IAEA nuclear had only a net growth of 1.7 GW last year.

    • A Real Libertarian

      Wait a second. 45GW at 33% = 15GW, and 29GW at 15% = 4.5GW. Add together and that’s easily 20GW of nukes.

      Don’t forget all the nuke closings, that makes nukes even worse.

Back to Top ↑