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 (prime movers), by type and heat content of fuels, power plant emission controls, and other factors.
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:
Electric Power Annual
Monthly Energy Review, Appendices with fuel heat contents, electricity heat rates, and conversion factors
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
Last updated: February 27, 2020
Other FAQs about Oil/Petroleum
- Does EIA have county-level energy production data?
- Does EIA have data on U.S. oil refineries and their locations?
- Does EIA have data on the movement (transport) of crude oil, petroleum products, fuel ethanol, and biodiesel by rail?
- Does EIA have data on the type or quality of crude oil?
- Does EIA have information on U.S. natural gas and oil pipelines?
- Does EIA have projections for energy production, consumption, and prices for individual states?
- Does the world have enough oil to meet our future needs?
- How many alternative fuel and hybrid vehicles are there in the United States?
- How many gallons of gasoline and diesel fuel are made from one barrel of oil?
- How much coal, natural gas, or petroleum is used to generate a kilowatthour of electricity?
- When was the last refinery built in the United States?
- How much of the crude oil produced in the United States is consumed in the United States?
- How much oil consumed by the United States comes from foreign countries?
- How much oil is consumed in the United States?
- How much oil is used to make plastic?
- How much petroleum does the United States import and export?
- How much shale (tight) oil is produced in the United States?
- What are petroleum products, and what is petroleum used for?
- What countries are the top producers and consumers of oil?
- What do I pay for in a gallon of gasoline and diesel fuel?
- What is U.S. electricity generation by energy source?
- What is the difference between crude oil, petroleum products, and petroleum?
- What is the outlook for home heating fuel prices this winter?
- What types and amounts of energy are produced in each state?