Quantcast

Renewables Go Mainstream in 23 States

Popular

Solar, wind and geothermal power are now mainstream sources of electricity generation in 23 states, based on data from the U.S. Energy Information Agency (EIA). Solar is already the second leading source of power in California and Nevada will likely be there by 2017. By 2020, more than half of U.S. states will rely on renewable resources for electricity.

Fossil fuels still dominate U.S. energy consumptionSource: U.S. EIA

As recently as 2006, fossil fuels accounted for 71 percent of electric power generation in the U.S. By 2015, that number had dropped to 66.8 percent. The contribution of solar energy to that mix, which was negligible in 2006, has grown more than 5,000 percent since then.

Coal has fallen out of favor as natural gas prices declined and emissions regulations increased. Petroleum lost its edge following the steep price increases in the mid-2000s, reaching a peak price for crude oil of $147.27 per barrel on July 11, 2008.

Meanwhile, spurred by improving technology, government incentives and regulation, states have turned to renewables. At the end of the 20th century, just 10 states generated any measurable electricity from solar, wind or geothermal sources. Today, every state generates measurable amounts from at least one of those sources. In 2015, 22 states had at least one of those sources in its top three, and this year it is expected to include 23 states.

U.S. power from renewables will reach 23 percent by 2025Source: U.S. EIA

Use of renewable sources for electric power generation—which includes wind, solar, geothermal, biomass and hydroelectric—set new records every month this year. Due to drought conditions in the West, hydroelectric power last year was at lowest level since 2007, although it is recovering slightly this year. Non-hydroelectric power surpassed hydro power in 2013, and has grown 242 percent in the last decade. The EIA expects renewables to account for 23 percent of electric generation by 2025, up from 13 percent today.

California is the top state for solar power generation, followed by Arizona, North Carolina, New Jersey and Nevada. The nation's largest wind farm is set to be built in Iowa, putting the state on the path to become the first state to generate a majority of its power from a renewable resource.

Energy storage growth by quarter in the U.S.Source: GTM Research/ESA U.S. Energy Storage Monitor

Helping the U.S. transition to renewables is the rapid growth of energy storage capacity, which includes batteries, thermal and hydropower reservoirs. Renewables, especially solar and wind, are subject to daily and weather pattern fluctuations. In the second quarter of 2016, the U.S. increased storage capacity by 126 percent, deploying 41.2 megawatts of storage. The nation is on track to install 287 megawatts of energy storage in 2016. GTM Research, which publishes the Energy Storage Monitor, projects that U.S. energy storage capacity will exceed two gigawatts in 2021.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A verdant and productive urban garden in Havana. Susanne Bollinger / Wikimedia Commons

By Paul Brown

When countries run short of food, they need to find solutions fast, and one answer can be urban farming.

Read More Show Less
Trevor Noah appears on set during a taping of "The Daily Show with Trevor Noah" in New York on Nov. 26, 2018. The Daily Show With Trevor Noah / YouTube screenshot

By Lakshmi Magon

This year, three studies showed that humor is useful for engaging the public about climate change. The studies, published in The Journal of Science Communication, Comedy Studies and Science Communication, added to the growing wave of scientists, entertainers and politicians who agree.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
rhodesj / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Cities around the country are considering following the lead of Berkeley, California, which became the first city to ban the installation of natural gas lines in new homes this summer.

Read More Show Less
Rebecca Burgess came up with the idea of a fibersheds project to develop an eco-friendly, locally sourced wardrobe. Nicolás Boullosa / CC BY 2.0

By Tara Lohan

If I were to open my refrigerator, the origins of most of the food wouldn't be too much of a mystery — the milk, cheese and produce all come from relatively nearby farms. I can tell from the labels on other packaged goods if they're fair trade, non-GMO or organic.

Read More Show Less
A television crew reports on Hurricane Dorian while waves crash against the Banana River sea wall. Paul Hennessy / SOPA Images / LightRocket / Getty Images

By Mark Hertsgaard and Kyle Pope

Some good news, for a change, about climate change: When hundreds of newsrooms focus their attention on the climate crisis, all at the same time, the public conversation about the problem gets better: more prominent, more informative, more urgent.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
U.S. Senators Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Mike Braun (R-Ind.) met with Bill Gates on Nov. 7 to discuss climate change and ways to address the challenge. Senator Chris Coons

The U.S. Senate's bipartisan climate caucus started with just two members, a Republican from Indiana and a Democrat from Delaware. Now it's up to eight members after two Democrats, one Independent and three more Republicans joined the caucus last week, as The Hill reported.

Read More Show Less
EPA scientists survey aquatic life in Newport, Oregon. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to significantly limit the use of science in agency rulemaking around public health, the The New York Times reports.

Read More Show Less
A timelapse video shows synthetic material and baby fish collected from a plankton sample from a surface slick taken off Hawaii's coast. Honolulu Star-Advertiser / YouTube screenshot

A team of researchers led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration didn't intend to study plastic pollution when they towed a tiny mesh net through the waters off Hawaii's West Coast. Instead, they wanted to learn more about the habits of larval fish.

Read More Show Less