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With the increase in market penetration for electric vehicles, the upstream emissions from electricity generation become important. Those emissions are dependent upon the source of electricity generation. Although the generation of electricity varies greatly by region, the overall use of coal declined by about 24% from 2008 to 2012. The decrease in coal use has largely been supplanted by natural gas which has seen an increase of nearly 87% from 2003 to 2012. The use of nuclear and hydroelectric power has remained fairly constant over this time period. Though still a relatively small percentage of overall electricity generation, the use of renewable sources (other than hydroelectric) such as solar, wind, and biomass have increased nearly three-fold while the use of petroleum liquids and coke have dwindled to just 0.6%. The drop in overall electricity generation in 2009 reflects the effects of the economic recession that began at the end of 2007.

Electricity Generation by Source, 2003-2012
Graph showing the the sources of electricity generation from 2003 to 2012 in megawatt hours. Sources include, in order of prevalence, coal, natural and other gas, nuclear, conventional hydroelectric, other renewable, other, and petroleum liquids and coke. See table below for more detailed information.

Notes:

  • Other Renewable sources include wood, black liquor, other wood waste, biogenic municipal solid waste, landfill gas, sludge waste, agriculture byproducts, other biomass, geothermal, solar thermal, photovoltaic energy, and wind.
  • Other includes non-biogenic municipal solid waste, batteries, hydrogen, purchased steam, sulfur, tire-derived fuel, and other miscellaneous energy sources.

Supporting Information

Electricity Generation by Source, 2003-2012
Year Coal Petroleum Liquids & Coke Natural & Other Gas Nuclear Hydroelectric Conventional Other Renewable Other
2003 1,974 119 666 764 267 79 14
2004 1,978 121 725 789 260 83 14
2005 2,013 122 774 781 264 87 13
2006 1,991 64 831 787 283 97 13
2007 2,016 66 910 806 241 105 12
2008 1,986 46 895 806 249 126 12
2009 1,756 39 932 799 269 144 12
2010 1,847 37 999 807 255 167 13
2011 1,733 30 1,025 790 313 194 14
2012 1,517 23 1,242 769 272 219 12
Source: Energy Information Administration, Electric Power Monthly -- June 2013, Table 1.1.

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