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Average costs of fossil fuels for electricity generation in the U.S. 2005-2019

The cost of fossil fuels in the electric power industry can vary depending on the source that is used. In general, fossil fuels cost about 2.50 U.S. dollars per million British thermal units (Btu) but can range from 2.02 U.S. dollars per million Btu for coal to 9.07 U.S. dollars per million Btu for petroleum.

Coal and oil prices

In general, coal and oil prices have been the most volatile, while natural gas prices have remained relatively stable in comparison. Oil blends tend to hover around similar prices while different coal deposit types can heavily impact the energy density carried by the coal, and thus, prices.

Natural gas price

Similar to coal, natural gas prices can vary based on the region. Being a large producer of domestic natural gas, the U.S. has notably lower prices compared to Europe and Japan. Due to greater natural gas production through hydraulic fracturing, prices have experienced a decline over the last decade or so, reaching 2.02 U.S. dollars per million Btu in 2019 from 8.21 U.S. dollars in 2005. While the U.S. has seen an increase in accessible and economic shale gas supplies, consumer markets in Asia are mostly reliant on liquefied natural gas shipping. As the liquefaction process ends up as a sunk cost it increases the overall price for the fossil fuel in countries such as Japan.

Average costs of fossil fuels for the electric power industry in the United States from 2005 to 2019

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Release date

October 2020


United States

Survey time period

2005 to 2019

Supplementary notes

* Includes anthracite, bituminous, subbituminous, lignite, waste coal, and synthetic coal.
** Includes distillate fuel oil, residual fuel oil, jet fuel, kerosene, petroleum coke, and waste oil.
*** Includes a small amount of supplemental gaseous fuels that cannot be identified separately. Natural gas values do not include blast furnace gas or other gas.
This statistic was assembled using several editions of the report.

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Statistics on "Fossil fuel consumption in the U.S."

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