Energy efficiency of the different types of energy

Here is a table that shows which energies have the best foctors:

EnergyAverage foad factorAverage efficiencyPower capacity GW
Yearly production TWh
Yearly production MToe
Pollution CO2
Installation lifetime
Nuclear WPR80%50%6,4--9,097,460
Ultra-supercritical coal80%43%127,0450,0-776,3147,460
Supercritical coal71%44%133,02250,0-841,5160,160
Waste to energy65%27,5%12,994,1-570,6111,450
Plasma burner60%37,5%0,011--149,0148,5-
Biomass wood60%25%112,0504,01354,092,099,930
Hydraulic run off river59%75%---13,0105,840
Thermal flame55%47%4001,122076,513498,7432,3106,230
Water mill50%41%---13,053,440
Hydrogen fuel cell48%55%---330,8137,615
Fossil fuel48%50%3465,518771,411353,3551,6103,329
Natural gas44%58%901,35543,33204,1510,658,330
Combined cycle gas43%58%108,7--388,756,930
Hydraulique small39%75%---12,5105,830
Renewable energies39%41%2661,26136,52662,9105,9138,633
Offshore wind34%25%14,440,6-10,5159,315
Hydraulic water reservoir25%82%---13,066,5100
Solar water thermal25%80%456,09,4-17,5181,720
Marine current25%45%---13,5396,825
Marine tidal25%65%0,51,0-17,0496,5100
Concentrating solar23,5%85%4,82,0-27,0219,232,5
Onshore wind20%20%487,0959,0159,811,055,925
Marine wave20%10%0,01--17,0475,330
Solar photovoltaic10%11,5%303,0333,0-57,577,625
Domestic fuel oil5%35%---487,377,825
Wood trigeneration-85%0,0085--428,069,830
Heavy fuel oil-50%---414,843,620
Liquefied petroleum gas-27%---231,073,222
Marine thermal-3%------
Coal capture and storage-----208,5--

Sources: IEA, OECD, Lazard, OpenEI, NEI, BEIS, Energy White Paper, Bloomberg, SI Ocean, BP, EIU, REN21, WEC, WEO, associations and energy professionals. This is a world average. This is the most recent data at the time of the article.

The annual production in TWh includes only the electricity production, not the thermal production.

The load factor is the ratio between the average power and the theoretical maximum power. It is continually optimized over time.

Efficiency: the energy efficiency is the ratio between the actual efficiency of a machine and the theoretical efficiency. It also evolves with time.

Carbon capture and storage: this involves trapping CO2 with one of these 3 methods: after-combustion, oxy-fuel combustion or pre-combustion. None of them has a particular advantage. For the moment, green coal or clean coal is in test phase; large projects are under study.

Osmotic energy: conversion of freshwater to seawater. Also called energy of salinity gradients. Removed from the table, there are several projects in progress in the world.

Thermal tidal: thermodynamic machine that exploit the high temperature differences in oceans and seas.

Concentrating solar: also called solar thermodynamic is a solar thermal concentration system.

Trigeneration wood: biomass plant with wood generating heat, electricity and cold.

Marine tidal: it can be a tidal dam, it is necessary that the installation site is favorable which is not often the case. We put in place reversible bulbs, kinds of big turbines that work in both directions. The other possibility is tidal power plants with artificial lagoons.

Tidal current: a tidal turbine is used to capture the energy of ocean currents. A horizontal or vertical axis.

Tidal wave: this is related to swell generators. There are several revolutionary system, such as Wave Dragon System, me Limpet onshore. The Emec ponctual absorber, attenuator, horizontal oscillating submerged converter, oscillating vertical. The Pelamis system (ocean power delivery), the Searev direct swell generator with direct conversion chain.

At sea

The problem with all offshore systems is that the devices can degrade quickly, with corrosion, it is necessary to regularly change parts, or remove algae, floating waste. It requires a lot of maintenance.


Progress is being made in micro-algae, a photoenzyme should soon increase their energy efficiency by allowing them to produce hydrocarbons.

Plasma torch (or plasma burner)

The gasification with Europlasma plasma torch could reach 48% in terms of energy efficiency soon thanks to the use of a new generation combined cycle turbine. The plasma torch could replace the usual incineration process for waste. For the moment, its energy requirements in term of electricity greatly reduce its performance.

There are several ideas for projects that have not been exploited yet, such as a piezoelectric expandable wind sail, a marine tarpaulin or an underwater canvas of piezoelectric buoys. Wind and water mills in carbon fiber, graphene, or micro-lattice.

Other energies

We could add biofuels based on rapeseed ester, corn, soy biodiesel, cellulose ethanol, beet ethanol. The shale gas. The water mill, the pull mill. The vertical axis wind turbine, the flying wind turbine, the wind tree (abandoned idea), the giant sail for container ships, the giant kite, the helium balloon, the Saphonian wind turbine, the wind turbine without blades (bladeless vortex), the vibrating wire, the flag, the Venturi, the simple solar tower, the osmotic energy (reaction fresh water / salt water), the oceanic biomass. Nuclear fusion with ITER. The solar sail in space. The giant solar parables. Aerothermal, aquathermy with heat pump. Air compression.

Some are still theoretical such as magnetohydrodynamics (MHD), magnetized targeted fusion (General Fusion), stellarator type nuclear fusion (Wendelstein Stellarator).


It includes the air pollution issued by the construction, production and destruction of the facility. The emission of NOx, SO2, CO, PM, HC could have been taken into account.

Other information

LPG, liquefied petroleum gas is mainly composed of natural gas (60%) and then light hydrocarbons in liquid form (40%). The piezoelectric has failed to penetrate the energy market, for the moment this technology is too heavy in terms of maintenance and it can deteriorate quickly with friction and corrosion. The hydrogen fuel cell is not used alone for the time being; it is always coupled to a more polluting device.


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