What's The Difference Between A Megawatt And A Gigawatt?


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Taylor Edgar answered
Electricity is measured in a standard metric measure of electrical power, the kilowatt, which is equivalent to 1,000 watts. However, the unit we see on our electricity bills is the kilowatt hour, the the actual rate of energy consumption.

The megawatt, then, is a million watts, or the equivalent of 1,000 kilowatts. The gigawatt is the equivalent of 1,000 megawatts, or one thousand million watts. To give a better understanding, one gigawatt of electricity would meet the energy needs of over 600,000 UK households, around 1% of the UK energy supply.

Interestingly, although the kilowatt hour is a metric unit, the watt is an
Imperial measurement of energy, first devised by James Watt of steam engine fame. Originally, the 'watt' was used to literally measure horse power. The inventor calculated that a horse could lift 330 pounds, 100 feet in a minute. A kilowatt is the equivalent of 1.3 horsepower, roughly one hundredth the power output of an average family saloon car.

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