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What is the efficiency of different types of power plants?

The efficiency of a power plant is a measure of how much of the energy in the fuel source is converted into usable electricity. It is expressed as a percentage and is calculated by dividing the total amount of electricity produced by the amount of energy in the fuel source. Higher efficiencies result in less fuel being used for the same amount of electricity, resulting in cost savings and less pollution.

  • Nuclear power plants: 32-42% efficiency 
  • Fossil fuel power plants: 33-45% efficiency 
  • Hydropower plants: 80-90% efficiency 
  • Wind turbines: 25-45% efficiency 
  • Solar power plants: 15-25% efficiency

To see the efficiency of a power plant in terms of a percentage, divide 3,412 Btu/kWh by the Heat Rate. 3412 Btu/kWh is the conversion factor of Btu to kWh. It is also the amount of heat that is returned from directing converting 1 kWh.