How Much Green Energy Does It Take to Power a Light Bulb?

October 1, 2014


The National Renewable Energy Laboratory estimates that today’s renewable electricity generation technology, combined with better grid flexibility, could provide up to 80% of the country’s total power generation by 2050.

To put things into perspective, GOOD magazine considers the various energy supplier techniques that can be used to power a single light bulb for a year:

  • Coal: 714 pounds
  • Nuclear: 0.35 pounds of natural uranium
  • Natural gas: 143 pounds

The above methods are likely already being used by your power company on a regular basis.

On the other end of the spectrum are the techniques used by green energy companies:

  • Wind: 1.5 MW wind turbine operating at 25 percent capacity just a little over two hours
  • Hydroelectric: 339 kW turbine operating at 80 percent efficiency for just two hours and 35 minutes

Though fossil fuels such as natural gas and oil are still widely-used power sources, green energy is becoming a formidable competitor, due to renewable portfolio standards and tax credits in some states. The U.S. Energy Information Administration found that the U.S. is a close “second worldwide in renewable electricity generation” to China.