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Frequently Asked Questions

What is U.S. electricity generation by energy source?

In 2016, about 4.08 trillion kilowatthours (kWh) of electricity1 were generated at utility-scale facilities in the United States.2  About 65% of this electricity generation was from fossil fuels (coal, natural gas, petroleum, and other gases), about 20% was from nuclear energy, and about 15% was from renewable energy sources. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates that an additional 19 billion kWh (or about 0.02 trillion kWh) of electricity generation was from small-scale solar photovoltaic systems in 2016.3

Major energy sources and percent shares of U.S. electricity generation at utility-scale facilities in 2016

  • Natural gas = 33.8%
  • Coal = 30.4%
  • Nuclear = 19.7%
  • Renewables (total) = 14.9%
    • Hydropower = 6.5%
    • Wind = 5.6%
    • Biomass = 1.5%
    • Solar  = 0.9%
    • Geothermal = 0.4%
  • Petroleum = 0.6%
  • Other gases = 0.3%
  • Other nonrenewable sources = 0.3%
  • Pumped storage hydroelectricity = -0.2%4

    1 Preliminary data for 2016.
    2 Electricity generating facilities (power plants) with at least one megawatt (or 1,000 kilowatts) of total electricity generating capacity.
    3 Small-scale solar photovoltaic systems are electricity generators with less than one megawatt of electricity generating capacity that are usually at or near the location where the electricity is consumed. Most small-scale solar photovoltaic systems are installed on building rooftops.
    4 Pumped storage hydroelectricity generation is negative because most pumped storage electricity generation facilities use more electricity than they produce on an annual basis.

    Learn more:
    Energy Explained: Electricity in the United States
    Electric Power Monthly: Chapter 1: Net Generation
    Monthly Energy Review: Electricity

    Last updated: April 18, 2017

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