# kW, MW and GW: How electricity units work and how to convert them

Kilowatts, megawatts and gigawatts are all power units – beyond that, many people don’t know differences in use for these terms. After all, only knowing that, for example, a megawatt is 1000 kilowatts doesn’t really give you the context for why one term is used rather than another.

In this post, we’ll be explaining various different electricity measurements, how to convert these units to one another, what contexts each measurement of electricity is appropriate for, as well as sharing other useful information to know about electricity measurements.

## What is a watt (W)?

Watts are the basic unit of power that is used to measure thermal, electric, and mechanical power. Examples of common appliances that will have their energy consumption measured in watts include light bulbs and computer monitors.

## What is a kilowatt (KW)? How much is a kilowatt?

A kilowatt is another measure of power – the number of watts in a kilowatt is 1000. Conversions up to kilowatts happen when we talk about residential and commercial power. Some appliances, such as electric water heaters, will have their energy consumption measured in kilowatts.

## What is a megawatt (MW)? What can a megawatt power?

When it comes to megawatts, it is usually used for measuring the output of a power plant, or the amount of electricity that’s needed by a city. According to Nuclear Regulatory Commission, a megawatt of capacity is equal to the electricity consumed by 400-900 homes in a year. There are 1000 KW to a megawatt or 1000000 watts in a megawatt.

## What is gigawatt? How many megawatts in a gigawatt?

Gigawatts are useful for representing the capacity of large power plants or several power plants, including coal, nuclear and hydroelectric power plants. A single gigawatt is 1000 megawatts or 1 billion watts.

## What is terawatt?

One terawatt is equal to 1000000 megawatts or 1000 gigawatts – it’s useful for conceptualizing how much energy is being used worldwide.

Below are common conversions between these power units. Read on for how to calculate these conversions using relatively simple formulas.

## Convert kilowatts (kW) to megawatts (MW)

The formula for this conversion is **P(MW) = P(kW)/1000**.

This reads as the power in megawatts is equal to the power in kilowatts divided by 1000.

Below is an example of how to use the formula:

Let’s say we have 5000 kilowatts that we want to convert into megawatts.

**P(MW)** = **5000/1000 = 5 MW**

## Convert megawatts (MW) to gigawatts (GW)

The formula for this conversion is **P(GW)** = **P(MW)/1000.**

This reads as the power in gigawatts is equal to the power in megawatts divided by 1000.

Below is an example of how to use the formula:

Let’s say we have 3300 megawatts we want to convert into gigawatts.

**P(GW) = 3300/1000 = 3.3 GW**

## Convert kilowatts (kW) to gigawatts (GW)

The formula for this conversion is **P(GW) = P(kW)/1000000.**

This reads as the power in gigawatts is equal to the power in kilowatts divided by 1000000.

Below is an example of how to use the formula:

Let’s say we have 6000000 kilowatts we want to convert into gigawatts.

**P(GW) **= **6000000/1000000 = 6 GW**

## Convert kilowatts (kW) to terawatts (TW)

The formula for this conversion is **P(TW) = P(kW)/1000000000.**

This reads as the power in terawatts is equal to the power in kilowatts divided by 1000000000.

Below is an example of how to use the formula:

Let’s say we have 8000000000 kilowatts we want to convert into terawatts.

**P(TW)** **= 8000000000/1000000000 = 8 TW**

## Watts vs Amps: What’s the difference?

An ampere measures electric current or the flow of electric charge in a circuit. Watts are a measure of power – power measures the rate at which energy flows. One watt is the rate at which a single ampere of current flows through an electrical potential difference of a volt. Electric potential difference is the external work required to move charge from one location to another in an electric field.

## Global electricity generation: How much electricity is generated in the world?

According to the International Energy Agency, 25506 TWh of electricity was generated in 2017.

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