U.S. Energy Information Administration - EIA - Independent Statistics and Analysis
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the efficiency of different types of power plants?
Heat rate is one measure of the efficiency of a generator or power plant that converts a fuel into heat and into electricity. The heat rate is the amount of energy used by an electrical generator or power plant to generate one kilowatthour (kWh) of electricity. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) expresses heat rates in British thermal units (Btu) per net kWh generated. Net generation is the amount of electricity a power plant (or generator) supplies to the power transmission line connected to the power plant. Net generation accounts for all the electricity that the power plant consumes to operate the generator(s) and other equipment, such as fuel feeding systems, boiler water pumps, cooling equipment, and pollution control devices.
To express the efficiency of a generator or power plant as a percentage, divide the equivalent Btu content of a kWh of electricity (which is 3,412 Btu) by the heat rate. For example, if the heat rate is 10,500 Btu, the efficiency is 33%. If the heat rate is 7,500 Btu, the efficiency is 45%.
EIA only publishes heat rates for fossil fuel-fired generators and nuclear power plants. There is a discussion of the method that EIA uses to estimate the amount of energy consumed to generate electricity with renewable energy sources in Alternatives for Estimating Energy Consumption, which includes a table with estimates for the conversion efficiencies of noncombustible renewable energy sources (geothermal, hydroelectric, solar, and wind energy).
Last updated: April 25, 2016
Other FAQs about Electricity
- Can customers choose their electricity supplier?
- Does EIA have county-level energy production data?
- Does EIA have data on each power plant in the United States?
- Does EIA have data on the costs for electricity transmission and distribution?
- Does EIA have energy consumption and price data for cities, counties, or by zip code?
- Does EIA have maps or information on the location of electric power plants and transmission lines in the United States?
- Does EIA have projections for energy production, consumption, and prices for individual states?
- Does EIA publish data on peak or hourly electricity generation, demand, and prices?
- Does EIA publish electric utility rate, tariff, and demand charge data?
- Does EIA publish electricity consumption and price data by state?
- How is electricity used in U.S. homes?
- How many nuclear power plants are in the United States, and where are they located?
- How many power plants are there in the United States?
- How many smart meters are installed in the United States, and who has them?
- How much coal, natural gas, or petroleum is used to generate a kilowatthour of electricity?
- How much does it cost to build different types of power plants in the United States?
- How much does it cost to generate electricity with different types of power plants?
- How much electricity does a nuclear power plant generate?
- How much electricity does an American home use?
- How much electricity is lost in transmission and distribution in the United States?
- How much electricity is used for lighting in the United States?
- How much energy is consumed in the world by each sector?
- How much of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions are associated with electricity generation?
- How much of world energy consumption and electricity generation is from renewable energy?
- What is U.S. electricity generation by energy source?
- What is the difference between electricity generation capacity and electricity generation?
- What is the efficiency of different types of power plants?
- What is the outlook for home heating fuel prices this winter?
- What types and amounts of energy are produced in each state?