Mapping: Major Electricity Sources by State and Province
Nationally, the United States and Canada rely on a very different composition of sources to generate their electricity.
The United States primarily uses natural gas, coal, and nuclear power, while Canada relies on both hydroelectric and nuclear power. That being said, when zooming down to the provincial or state level, individual primary sources of electricity can differ greatly.
Here’s a look at electricity generation in the states and provinces of these two countries using data from the Nuclear Energy Institute (2021) and the Canadian Energy Regulator (2019).
Natural gas is widely used for electricity generation in the United States. Known as a “cleaner” fossil fuel, its abundance, coupled with an established national distribution grid and relatively low cost, makes it the nation’s primary source of electricity.
In 2021, 38% of the 4,120 terawatt-hours (TWh) of electricity generated in the US came from natural gas. Not surprisingly, more than 40% of US states have natural gas as their major source of electricity.
Here are some states that have the highest proportion of natural gas-based electricity.
|state province||% of Electricity from Natural Gas|
|🇺🇸 Rhode Island||90.9|
In Canada, natural gas is only the third largest source of electricity (after hydro and nuclear), accounting for 11% of the 632 TWh of electricity produced in 2019. Alberta is the only province with natural gas as its source. main source of electricity.
Nuclear power is a carbon-free energy source that makes up a significant portion of the power generated in both the US and Canada.
19% of the electricity in the United States and 15% in Canada comes from nuclear power. While the percentages are similar, it’s good to keep in mind that the United States generates 6 to 7 times more electricity than Canada each year, producing far more nuclear power than Canada in terms of gigawatt hours (GWh) per year.
As seen on the map, many states and provinces with nuclear power as their main source of electricity are concentrated in the eastern half of the two countries.
In the US, Illinois, Pennsylvania and South Carolina are the main producers in terms of GWh/year. Illinois and South Carolina also have nuclear power as their primary source of electricity, while Pennsylvania’s electricity production from natural gas exceeds that of nuclear power.
The vast majority of Canada’s nuclear reactors (18 out of 19) are in Ontario, with the 19th in New Brunswick. Both provinces rely on nuclear power as their major source of electricity.
Renewables: Hydraulic, Wind and Solar
Of the different types of renewable electricity sources, hydroelectric is the most prevalent in North America. For example, 60% of electricity in Canada and 6% in the US comes from hydroelectric power.
These are the states and provinces that have hydropower as their largest source of electricity.
|state province||% of electricity from Hydro|
|🇨🇦 Newfoundland and Labrador||95|
|🇨🇦 British Columbia||87|
|🇨🇦 Northwest Territories||47|
Wind and solar power together comprise a small percentage of the total electricity generated in both countries. While no state or province relies on solar power as its largest source of electricity, Iowa, Kansas, Oklahoma, and South Dakota rely primarily on wind for their electricity, along with Canada’s Prince Edward Island (PEI).
coal and oil
Coal and oil are highly emission-intensive sources of electricity that are still prevalent in North America.
Currently, 22% of the electricity in the United States and 7% of Canada’s comes from coal, and places like Kentucky, Missouri, West Virginia, Saskatchewan, and Nova Scotia still rely on coal as their largest sources of electricity.
Certain regions also use oil to generate their electricity. Although its use for this purpose is declining, it is still the largest source of electricity in both Hawaii and Nunavut.
In the coming years, it will be interesting to watch the use of these fossil fuels for electricity generation in the US and Canada. Despite the differences in climate commitments between the two countries, reducing emissions related to coal and oil can be a critical part of reaching decarbonization goals in a timely manner.
#Mapping #Major #Electricity #Sources #State #Province