Watt’s watt? A guide to renewable energy capacity and generation.

26.07.18 By
This content is more than 5 years old

Kilowatts? Megawatts? Megatron?

Sometimes information about energy and renewables can be full of confusing jargon. Sure, a megawatt sounds big, but what does it actually mean? Can it save you when you’re on 3% battery, or can it power your whole street on a 40 degree day with everyone blasting the AC?

We thought we’d break it down so you can talk the talk when it comes to renewable technology!


Kilowatts (kW), megawatts (MW) or gigawatts (GW) are all measures of capacity. Capacity is the maximum amount of electricity that a power station, or multiple power stations are capable of producing.

So watt’s what?

Electricity generation is different to capacity. Capacity refers to the maximum amount of electricity that can be produced at any one time, and generation is the amount of electricity that is actually generated over a period of time. And then, you have consumption. Energy consumption is measuring how much electricity you are using over a period of time.

So when we are talking energy, generation is the amount of electricity actually produced by a wind, solar or coal power station over a period of time. It’s measured in kilowatthours (kWh), megawatthours (MWh) or gigawatthours (GWh). These terms are also used when describing electricity consumed by a household, a company or Australia as a whole.

So, watt’s what?

There you have it, the low-down on energy generation and consumption!


  1. (Clean Energy Council 2017; Australian Energy Council)
  2. (Australian Government 2015)
  3. (GreenTech Media 2016)
  4. (ACCC 2017)
  5. (Australian Energy Council 2017)
  6. (Australian Government 2015)