The emissions of electricity

November 24, 2015

How much CO2 is produced per kilowatt-hour of power I use?

It’s easy to not think of greenhouse gas emissions when we turn on lights, televisions or heaters. But power generation produces 25% of global emissions, more than any other sector.

So just how much CO2 is produced for each kilowatt-hour (KWH) we consume?

The answer is: it depends on where you live, because power is generated differently in each province. In Canada, the ‘greenest’ power is in Quebec – just three grams CO2 per KWH – because that province is so rich in hydroelectric resources. (Hence Quebec’s big push toward electric vehicles.) Manitoba is close behind, with just four g/KWH. Then come BC (17 g) and NL (21 g).

At the other end of the spectrum are Alberta, Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia, with 820, 770 and 740 g/KWH respectively. All three are heavily reliant on fossil fuels, particularly coal, for their power. Next highest are NWT & Nunavut (340 g) and NB (300 g). You can view the full list here. (Sorry, I haven’t found a simple table comparing US states, but you can find any state’s number by clicking on the state from this page and then opening Table 7. The US average is 1175 lb CO2/megawatt hour.)

The bottom line: most of us don’t think of emissions when we use power. But knowing the emissions that arise from our use of electricity can help raise our consciousness, and that’s a first step toward reducing our consumption. As Martha Stewart would say, that’s a good thing!

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2 Responses to “The emissions of electricity”

  1. When you purchase your electricity from Bullfrog Power as we do, then you can be sure that each kwh of electricity you are using is not producing any CO2 or radioactive waste, since the power is sourced from wind, small hydro and bio-gas. http://www.bullfrogpower.com

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