Energy efficiency of different types of energy

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

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 global average. These are the most recent data at the time of the article.

Energy efficiency of different types of energy
EnergyAverage foad factorAverage efficiencyPower capacity GW (world)Yearly production TWh (world)Yearly production Mtoe (world)Pollution CO2 g/kWhCost USD/MWhInstallation lifetime (years)
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--

The annual production in TWh includes only electrical production, not thermal production.

Load factor is the ratio between the average power and the theoretical maximum power. This is continuously optimized over time.

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

Coal capture and storage: it is a question of trapping CO2 with one of these 3 methods: afterburning, oxycombustion or precombustion. None of them has a particular advantage. For the moment, green coal or clean coal is in the testing phase; major projects are under consideration.

Osmotic energy: conversion of freshwater to seawater. Also called energy of salinity gradients. Removed from the picture, there are several projects underway around the world.

Thermal tidal: thermodynamic machine which exploit the high thermal differences in the oceans and seas.

Thermodynamic solar: concentrated thermal solar.

Wood trigeneration: biomass wood power plant generating heat, electricity and cold.

Tidal tidal wave: it can be a tidal barrage, so the installation site must be favorable, which is not often the case. We put in place reversible bulbs, kinds of large turbines that work in both directions. The other possibility is the tidal factory with artificial lagoons.

Tidal currents: we use a tidal turbine to capture the energy of ocean currents. With horizontal or vertical axis.

Swell tidal wave: it is a question of hogeneration. There are several revolutionary systems, such as the Wave Dragon system, me Limpet onshore. The Emec point absorber, attenuator, submersible converter oscillating horizontal, oscillating vertical. The Pelamis system (ocean power delivery), the Searev direct wave generator with direct conversion chain.

At sea

The problem of all systems at sea is that the devices can degrade quickly, with corrosion, it is necessary to regularly change parts, or remove algae, floating waste. This 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

The gasification with plasma torch of Europlasma 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 waste incineration process. For the moment, its energy needs for electricity greatly affect its performance.

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

Energies not present

We could have added biofuels based on rapeseed ester, corn, soy biodiesel, cellulose ethanol, beet ethanol. The shale gas. The water mill, the traction mill. Vertical wind turbine, flying wind turbine, wind tree (idea abandoned), giant sail for container ships, flying turbine, giant kite, helium balloon, Saphonian wind turbine, 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 with ITER. The solar sail in space. The giant solar dishes. Aerothermal energy, aquathermy with the heat pump. Air compression.

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


It includes that emitted by the construction, production and destruction of the installation. We could have taken into account the emission of NOx, SO2, CO, PM, HC.

Other information

Fuel oil is the other name for fuel oil. LPG, liquefied petroleum gas is mainly composed of natural gas (60%) then light hydrocarbons in liquid form (40%). The name Diesel refers to diesel. The piezoelectric has not been able to break through, for the moment this technology is too heavy in terms of maintenance and it can deteriorate rapidly.

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