Carbon Footprint

Square Footprint

Smoke Stack 400
Clouds 400

863 kg CO2e / MWh

6,053 ft2 /
MWh

Carbon Footprint

Square Footprint

Smoke Stack 800
Clouds 800

863 kg CO2e / MWh

6,053 ft2 / MWh

If all of your home's annual electricity (10.715 MWh) was powered by coal, you would use:

1,040

Gallons of Gasoline Equivalent

9,247

kg CO2e
If all of your home's annual electricity (10.715 MWh) was powered by coal, you would use:

1,040

Gallons of Gasoline Equivalent

9,247

kg CO2e

The Carbon Footprint of coal power is 863 kg CO2e per Megawatt Hour (MWh). The greenhouse gas emissions of coal power are 1.8 times higher than natural gas.

If all of your home's annual electricity (10.715 MWh) was powered by coal for 100 years, you would use:

450

Parking Spaces Equivalent

64,858

ft2
Parking Spaces 800
If all of your home's annual electricity (10.715 MWh) was powered by coal for 100 years, you would use:

450

Parking Spaces Equivalent

64,858

ft2

The Square Footprint of coal power is 6,053 ft2 per Megawatt Hour over 100 years. The land use of coal power is 26.2 times higher than natural gas.

Data and Assumptions

Carbon Footprint:

  • Lifecycle Carbon Footprint of Coal Power is based on NREL (2021). Median value of 863 g CO2e / kWh for supercritical pulverized coal is based on a harmonized value from 53 studies with 164 unique values for all power generation types. The specific number of studies that state a value for supercritical pulverized coal is not stated.
  • Lifecycle Carbon Footprint of Natural Gas based on NREL (2021). Median value of 486 g CO2e / kWh is based on a harmonized value from 58 studies with 93 unique values.

 

Land Use:

  • Square Footprint of Coal based on Trainor et al. (2016). Study reports a land occupation of 8.19 km2 / TWh / yr (8.19 m2 / MWh / yr) for Open Pit Coal and 0.64 km2 / TWh / yr (0.64 m2/ MWh/ yr) for Tight Gas. US Department of Energy (DOE, 2022) reports that 66% of US coal is extracted via open pit mining. Based on this percentage, the weighted value for coal is, which is 5.623 m2 / MWh/ yr. The annual value is multiplied by 100 to obtain the 100 year land use of continued extraction of coal. The 100-year Square Footprint is 6,053 ft2 / MWh (562.3 m2 / MWh).
  • Square Footprint of Natural Gas based on Trainor et al. (2016). Study reports a land occupation of 0.19 km2 / TWh / yr (0.19 m2 / MWh/ yr) for Shale Gas and 0.24 km2 / TWh / yr (0.24 m2 / MWh/ yr) for Tight Gas. US Energy Information Administration (EIA, 2021A) reports that 88.8% of US natural gas is extracted via hydraulic fracturing to produce either shale gas or tight gas. Consumer Ecology uses the average of these two values for the Square Footprint of Natural Gas, which is 0.215 m2 / MWh/ yr. The annual value is multiplied by 100 to obtain the 100 year land use of continued extraction of natural gas. The 100-year Square Footprint is 231 ft2 / MWh (215 m2 / MWh).
  • Square Footprint of a Parking Space is 144 ft2, based on the average dimensions stated by Franklin Street (2019).
 
General Assumption:
  • Average 2020 US Household annual electricity of 10,715 kWh is based on EIA (2021).

References

DOE: US Department of Energy. (2022). Mining Industry Profile. See Link to Source

EIA: US Energy Information Administration. (2021A). Natural Gas Explained. See Link to Source

EIA: US Energy Information Administration. (2021B). How Much Electricity Does an American Home Use?. See Link to Source

Franklin Street. (May 23, 2019). How Large is a Parking Space? See Link to Source

NREL: National Renewable Energy Laboratory. (2021). Life Cycle Assessment Harmonization. See Link to Source

Trainor, A. M., McDonald, R. I., & Fargione, J. (2016). Energy sprawl is the largest driver of land use change in United States. PloS one, 11(9), e0162269.