Brought to you by the American Petroleum Institute

One Question on Energy: How Does Natural Gas Become Electricity?

A step-by-step look at how America is producing cleaner energy.

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August 25, 2020

Natural gas is a low cost, reliable, and low-emitting source of energy that plays a critical role in ensuring that Americans’ energy needs are always met. Americans get over one-third of their electricity from natural gas, and it is an important backstop to wind and solar power, helping to ensure access to electricity even if the sun stops shining or the wind stops blowing.

Because of its flexible and versatile nature, natural gas also has many uses beyond the power sector, ranging from transportation to residential and commercial use.

Natural gas is collected from within the Earth’s crust, processed, and delivered to power plants, where it is converted into electricity.

Here’s a breakdown on how natural gas is turned into energy:

Step 1: Extract

Natural gas is extracted from beneath the Earth’s surface, processed and delivered to power plants via pipelines.

Step 2: Convert

Power plants either use a boiler to create steam, which generates electricity by spinning a turbine, or they use a combustion turbine to create a rotating mass that creates electricity.

Step 3: Power

Utilities send this electricity through power lines to homes and businesses across America.

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