U.S. Energy Information Administration - EIA - Independent Statistics and Analysis
Frequently Asked Questions
How much coal, natural gas, or petroleum is used to generate a kilowatthour of electricity?
The amount of fuel used to generate electricity depends on the efficiency or heat rate of the generator (or power plant) and the heat content of the fuel. Power plant efficiencies (heat rates) vary by types of generators, power plant emission controls, and other factors. Fuel heat contents also vary.
Two formulas can be used to calculate the amount of fuel used to generate a kilowatthour (kWh) of electricity:
- Amount of fuel used per kWh = Heat rate (in British Thermal Units (Btu) per kWh) divided by Fuel heat content (in Btu per physical unit)
- Kilowatthour generated per unit of fuel used = Fuel heat content (in Btu per physical unit) divided by Heat rate (in Btu per kWh)
Data sources for the calculations:
- Table 7.3. Average Quality of Fossil Fuel Receipts for the Electric Power Industry ( xls )
- Table 8.1. Average Operating Heat Rate for Selected Energy Sources ( xls )
- Table 8.2 Average Tested Heat Rates by Prime Mover and Energy Source ( xls )
You can calculate the average amounts of fuels used to generate electricity in the United States, in each state, and at individual power plants using
- Data on total U.S. electricity generation (Table(s) 7.2 ) and fuel consumption for electricity generation (Table(s) 7.3)
- State-level historical electricity data files with annual and monthly electricity generation and fuel consumption
- Data on fuel consumption and electricity generation by fuel/energy source at U.S. power plants
Last updated: March 3, 2017
Other FAQs about Electricity
- Can electric utility 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 energy end-use sector?
- How much of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions are associated with electricity generation?
- How much of world energy consumption and production 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?