Where does your electricity come from? Are you connected and totally dependent on the electrical grid or have you built a net-zero energy home? Does your region rely heavily on coal power like the southeast U.S. or are you blessed with hydro power like the northwest U.S.? We use electricity every day; to make our coffee and toast, microwave our food, iron our clothes, wash our clothes and dishes, light our home and business, cool our home, etc. And yet most people just think that electricity comes from a socket in their home.
Before electricity reaches your home, it first has to be generated by something (we have yet to figure out how to capture electricity from lightning!). In the United States, we currently use the following sources to generate electricity (found from the Energy Information Administration link on Net Generation by Energy Source and Other Renewables and ranked from largest generation source to lowest generation source):
- Coal – Fossil Fuel
- Natural Gas – Fossil Fuel
- Hyrdo – Renewable
- Wind – Renewable
- Petroleum – Fossil Fuel
- Wood and Wood-derived Fuels – Renewable
- Other Biomass (Biogenic municipal solid waste, landfill gas, sludge waste, agricultural byproducts) – Renewable
- Geothermal – Renewable
- Solar Thermal and Photovoltaic – Renewable
We created the table and graph below from the EIA data to show the U.S. electrical generation mix through the first 8 months of 2010. As you can see, fossil fuels (coal and natural gas) currently make up almost 70% of our electrical generation!
The data above is for the entire U.S., but what sources make up the electricity generation in your state? Luckily the Department of Energy has a nice table showing from what sources each state in the U.S. gets its electricity from. The DOE also lets you see your state energy profile (not just electricity) that is very helpful and educational.
Electricity is generated from many different sources in the U.S. It is important for us to find clean sources that don’t pollute the environment while also providing affordable electricity.