Frequently Asked Questions

How much carbon dioxide is produced per kilowatthour when generating electricity with fossil fuels?

You can calculate the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) produced per kilowatthour (kWh) for specific fuels and specific types of generators by multiplying the CO2 emissions factor for the fuel (in pounds of CO2 per million Btu) by the heat rate of a generator (in Btu per kWh generated), and dividing the result by 1,000,000. 

Below are the number of pounds of CO2 produced by a steam-electric generator for different fuels using the above formula and the average heat rates for steam-electric generators in 2012 for calculating the amount of CO2 produced per kWh:


Fuel Lbs of CO2 per Million Btu Heat Rate (Btu per kWh)  Lbs CO2 per kWh
  Bituminous 205.300 10,107 2.08
  Sub-bituminous 212.700 10,107 2.16
  Lignite 215.400 10,107 2.18
Natural gas 117.080 10,416 1.22
Distillate Oil (No. 2) 161.386 10,416 1.68
Residual Oil (No. 6) 173.906 10,416 1.81

Last updated: April 17, 2014

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