Frequently Asked Questions

How much of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions are associated with electricity generation?

In 2016, emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) by the U.S. electric power sector1 were 1,821 million metric tons, or about 35% of the total U.S. energy-related CO2 emissions of 5,171 million metric tons.2

CO2 emissions from U.S. electric power sector by source, 2016

SourceMillion metric tonsShare of total
Coal1,24168%
Natural gas 54630%
Petroleum  211%
Other3  12
<1%
Total1,821
 

1 An energy-consuming sector that consists of electricity-only power plants and combined-heat-and-power plants whose primary business is to sell electricity, or electricity and heat, to the public.
2 Preliminary data for 2016.
Includes CO2 emissions from the combustion of miscellaneous waste materials made from fossil fuels and by some types of geothermal power generation.

Learn more:
Monthly Energy Review, Tables 12.1 and 12.6 contain the most recent estimates of monthly and annual U.S. energy-related CO2 emissions, total and by the electric power sector.
Electric Power Annual, Table 9.1: Emissions from energy consumption at conventional power plants and combined-heat-and-power plants.
Energy Explained: Energy and the Environment–Greenhouse gases
Energy Explained: Where Greenhouse Gases Come From

Last updated: May 10, 2017


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