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Plant-Specific Information

The most common questions and comments we receive have to do with the plant-specific information displayed (or not displayed) in CARMA. In particular, people often want to know what kind of plant they’re looking at. Does this plant burn coal or oil? Is that large, “green” plant a dam or a nuke?

Proprietary licensing agreements with some of our data suppliers prevent us from revealing the fuel sources (coal, gas, nuclear, etc.) of individual plants. Whenever possible, we reveal this information at the level of companies and geographic regions, although we group coal, oil, and natural gas into a “Fossil” category and combine various renewable technologies under a single heading (see the Glossary for details).

Despite these limitations, it is still possible to approximate the fuel source of carbon-emitting plants. For plants of substantial size, the Intensity figure (kilograms of CO2 per MWh) provides a guide. Red generally reflects the combustion of coal. Orange often reflects the burning of oil. Yellow generally corresponds to the use of natural gas. For more information about icon colors and properties, check out All About Icons.

We do not claim that these fuel type approximations are accurate in all cases, especially for smaller plants where inefficiencies in combustion can be significant. It is most accurate for plants of with at least 500 MW of total generating capacity.

In the case of plants that emit no carbon, it is not possible to approximate the fuel type from the Intensity figure. But large, carbon-free plants tend to be either hydroelectric or nuclear, and a simple web search of the plant name can often provide the necessary information.