Electricity generated per unit of fuel used: coal, natural gas, oil

The amount of fuel used to generate electricity depends on the efficiency of the power plant and the heat content of the fuel. Heat rate measures the efficiency of a generator or power plant and is based on the amount of energy used to generate one kilowatt of electricity. Heat rates (power plant efficiencies) depend on generator type, power plant emission controls, and some other factors. One metric ton of coal can generate 1,927 kilowatt hours of electricity, in comparison to 1,000 cubic feet of natural gas which can generate 99 kilowatt hours.

U.S. power plants

The largest power plant in the United States is the hydroelectric power plant, Grand Coulee, located in Washington. It has a summer capacity of 7.08 gigawatts. Power plant costs can also depend on the type of technology being used as well as the location. The amount of energy generated by renewable technologies can also vary greatly, depending on size, technology, and location potential. For example, the measured efficiency of solar cells can vary greatly depending on the material used. In the United States, about 17.7 percent of electricity generated is derived from renewable sources.

How much electricity is generated from a unit of coal, natural gas and oil in the U.S.?

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Release date

February 2016


United States

Survey time period


Supplementary notes

The source does not provide accurate information regarding the date of survey.

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Statistics on "Coal energy industry in the U.S."

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