The sources of electricity powering North America are quite diverse. The U.S. primarily relies on natural gas, coal and nuclear power, while Canada is dependent on both hydroelectric and nuclear power systems.

According to data from the Nuclear Energy Institute, 38% of the 4120 TWh of electricity generated during 2021 in the U.S. came from natural gas; more than 40% of states exploit natural gas as their biggest electricity source.

Canada Energy Regulator data indicate that natural gas is the third-biggest electricity source (behind hydro and nuclear) in Canada, accounting for 11% of the 632 TWh of electricity produced in 2019. Alberta is the only province with natural gas as its main source of electricity.

Source: Nuclear Energy Institute/Canada Energy RegulatorSource: Nuclear Energy Institute/Canada Energy Regulator

About 19% and 15% of electricity in the U.S. and Canada, respectively, is derived from nuclear power. In the U.S., Illinois, Pennsylvania and South Carolina are top producers in terms of GWh/year. Eighteen of 19 of Canada’s nuclear reactors are in Ontario, with the 19th in New Brunswick; both provinces rely on nuclear as their biggest source of electricity.

Hydroelectric power provides 60% and 6% of electricity in Canada and the U.S., respectively. Iowa, Kansas, Oklahoma and South Dakota, along with Canada’s Prince Edward Island, rely primarily on wind for their electricity.

Currently, 22% and 7% of electricity generated in the U.S. and Canada, respectively is derived from coal. Kentucky, Missouri, West Virginia, Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia still rely on coal as their biggest source of electricity. Although its use for this purpose is declining, petroleum is still the biggest source of electricity in both Hawaii and Nunavut.

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