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Frequently Asked Questions

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

In 2017, about 4,015 billion kilowatthours (kWh) (or 4.01 trillion kWh) of electricity were generated at utility-scale facilities in the United States.1 About 63% of this electricity generation was from fossil fuels (coal, natural gas, petroleum, and other gases). About 20% was from nuclear energy, and about 17% was from renewable energy sources. The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates that an additional 24 billion kWh of electricity generation was from small-scale solar photovoltaic systems in 2017.2

U.S. electricity generation by source, amount, and share of total in 20171
Energy sourceBillion kWhShare of total
Total - all sources4,015
Fossil fuels (total)2,51662.7%
  Natural gas1,27331.7%
  Petroleum (total)    21   0.5%
    Petroleum liquids    13   0.3%
    Petroleum coke     9   0.2%
  Other gases    14   0.4%
Nuclear   805  20.0%
Renewables (total)   687  17.1%
  Hydropower   300   7.5%
  Wind   254   6.3%
  Biomass (total)    64   1.6%
    Wood    43   1.1%
    Landfill gas    11   0.3%
    Municipal solid waste (biogenic)     7   0.2%
    Other biomass waste     3   0.1%
  Solar (total)     53   1.3%
    Photovoltaic    50   1.2%
    Solar thermal     3   0.1%
  Geothermal     16   0.4%
Pumped storage hydropower3     -6   -0.2%
Other sources     13   0.3%

1 Preliminary data for 2017. Includes utility-scale electricity generation, which is electricity generation from power plants with at least one megawatt (or 1,000 kilowatts) of total electricity generating capacity.
2 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.
3 Pumped storage hydroelectricity generation is negative because most pumped storage electricity generation facilities use more electricity than they produce on an annual basis. Most pumped storage systems use fossil fuels or nuclear energy for pumping water to the storage component of the system.

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

Last updated: March 7, 2018

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