TABLE 2-1 Net Electricity Generation by Energy

Energy Source

Net Electricity Generation (GWh)

Percent of Total Net Generation

Coal

2,000,000

48.5

Petroleum liquidsa

31,200

0.8

Petroleum coke

14,200

0.4

Natural gas

877,000

21.3

Other gasesb

11,600

0.3

Nuclear

806,000

19.6

Hydroelectric

248,000

6.0

Other renewablesc

124,000

3.0

NOTE: Net electricity-generation numbers reported by the Energy Information Administration are rounded to three significant figures.

aDistillate fuel oil, residual fuel oil, jet fuel, kerosene, and waste oil.

bBlast furnace gas, propane gas, and other manufactured and waste gases derived from fossil fuels.

cWind, solar thermal, solar photovoltaic (PV), geothermal, wood, black liquor, other wood waste, biogenic municipal solid waste, landfill gas, sludge waste, agricultural by-products, and other biomass.

SOURCE: Data from EIA 2008, 2009a.

wood and wood-derived energy sources (38,789 GWh, or 0.9%). Other renewable sources individually amounted to less than 0.5% each; the largest was other biomass, (16,099 GWh, or 0.4%. Generation from solar PV was approximately 600 GWh.

Rationale for Choice of Fuel Sources to Analyze

This chapter provides detailed analyses of electricity generation from coal, natural gas, nuclear fission, wind, and solar. The first three sources were chosen because they together account for 88% of all electricity generated in the United States; moreover they feature prominently in current policy discussions about energy sources. Wind energy also is prominent in policy discussions concerning electricity, and it appears to have the largest potential among all renewable sources to provide additional electricity in the medium term according to current projections (see discussion later in this chapter). Solar energy for electricity (photovoltaics) also is discussed, although not in detail, because of recent legislative and public interest and because of the rapid increase in use over the past 10 years. For the above reasons, the committee concluded that analyzing the external costs and benefits associated with these sources would be of the greatest value to policy makers.

We mention biomass (briefly) because it is such a dispersed source of



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement