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 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 of crude oil, ethanol, and biodiesel by rail and truck?
- Does EIA have data on the type or quality of crude oil?
- Does EIA have maps or information on the location of 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 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 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?
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- What countries are the top net importers of oil?
- What do I pay for in a gallon of gasoline and diesel fuel?
- What is the difference between crude oil, petroleum products, and petroleum?
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- What types and amounts of energy are produced in each state?