How important is renewable energy as a source of electricity? Consider that experts expect rolling blackouts this summer because parts of the electric grids around the U.S. will be overtaxed. The Wall Street Journal recently reported: “Last week the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) warned that two-thirds of the U.S. could experience blackouts this summer.”
One does not have to look back very far to see how severe the problem has been recently. Hurricane Ida cut electricity to almost all of New Orleans. Some towns nearby did not get their electricity back for weeks. It caused similar problems as it moved northeast and into New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut. In March 2021, huge snowstorms cut electricity to much of Texas. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas which controls most of the state’s energy nearly collapsed. Local, renewable energy may have helped soften some of these blows.
Still, some states are transitioning to renewable energy faster than others. Using data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, 24/7 Wall St. identified the state producing the most electricity from renewable sources. States were ranked based on the share of electric power production from renewable sources, which are: biomass, geothermal, hydropower, solar, and wind.
Depending on the state, the share of electricity production coming from renewable sources ranges from 2.5% to nearly 100%. Encouragingly, the vast majority of states have increased their renewable electricity production in recent years. Over the past decade, renewable sources as a share of total energy production have increased by over 5 percentage points in most states.
It is important to note that while transitioning to renewable energy sources is critical to achieving a pollution-free energy sector, not all renewable energy sources are carbon-neutral, just as not all non-renewable energy sources emit greenhouse gasses. Biomass, such as waste wood and crop residue is renewable, but when it is burned to produce electricity, it creates carbon. Similarly, though nuclear power plants are not classified as renewable sources, they do not produce air pollution.
The state that produces the most electricity from renewable sources is Vermont. Here are the details:
> Electricity from renewables, 2020: 99.9% of total (2.2 million MWh)
> 10-yr. change in share of renewable energy: +72.3 ppt. (the highest)
> Largest renewable energy source: Hydroelectric Conventional (1.1 million MWh)
> Largest non-renewable energy source: Natural Gas (2021.0 MWh)
Methodology: To identify the amount of renewable energy your state produces, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the percentage of electricity produced by each state that comes from renewable sources in 2020 from the Energy Information Administration. Sources of renewable energy include conventional hydroelectric, geothermal, wind, solar, wood and wood-derived fuels, and other biomass. Each state’s largest source of renewable and non-renewable energy also came from the EIA report.
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