Frequently Asked Questions

How much carbon dioxide is produced per kilowatthour when generating electricity with fossil fuels?

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) publishes average annual carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions factors for electricity generation in the State Electricity Profiles. Table 1 has the factor for the most recent year available. There are historical annual factors dating back to 1990 in Table 7. To find Table 7, see the link under Table 1 for: Full data tables 1-12. The factor is in pounds of CO2 per megawatthour (MWh). Divide the factor by 1,000 to convert the factor to pounds per kilowatthour (kWh).

You can calculate an average annual CO2 emissions factor for electricity generated in each state by type of fuel/energy source by dividing estimated CO2 emissions from electricity generation in each state by the amount of electricity generated in each state.

Data sources for the calculation State-level historical data files (xls) 

You can calculate the pounds of CO2 produced per kWh for specific types of electricity generators (prime movers) using different fuels by multiplying the heat rate of a generator (in British thermal units (Btu) per kWh generated), by the CO2 emission factor for the fuel (in pounds of CO2 per million Btu), and dividing the result by 1,000,000.

Data sources for the calculation are in the Electric Power Annual.

Learn more:
Data on power plant fuel consumption and heat content, and electricity generation by fuel/energy source

Last updated: March 21, 2017

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