Demand for energy has skyrocketed in recent decades in the United States, driving up total electricity production by well over 700% since 1950.
Today, over half of all electricity in the United States is generated from coal and natural gas — resources that are not only finite, but also environmentally harmful when burned and often also when extracted. As a result, the use of cleaner, renewable energy sources like hydro, wind, and solar, is becoming more common. Renewable energy accounted for 17.0% of the national energy mix in 2017, up from 8.5% a decade prior.
The use of renewable energy is not uniform across all states, however. Using data from the Energy Information Administration, 24/7 Wall St. identified the states producing the most renewable energy. We ranked all states based on the share of total electricity production that came from renewable sources. Renewable sources is a broad EIA classification comprising geothermal, conventional hydroelectric, solar, biomass, wind, and wood and wood-derived fuels.
While many Americans may be used to seeing energy use measured in kilowatt hours on their monthly bill, on an industrial scale, electricity production is measured in megawatt hours (MWh), which is equal to 1,000 kilowatt hours, or 1 million watts of electrical power used per hour. For reference, the typical American home uses about 10.8 MWh per year.
Use of renewable energy is one way to measure how environmentally friendly each states’s energy policies are, as burning fossil fuels drives up air pollution levels. These are America’s least eco-friendly states — and none of the top 10 states on this list is among them.
In only six states, over half of energy comes from renewable sources. Nationwide, and in 18 states, hydropower accounts for the largest share of renewable energy production. In another 18 states, wind produces more renewable energy than any other source. In the remaining 14 states, the largest source of renewable energy is either wood, solar, or biomass like agricultural products, food waste, and manure.
In the state deriving the largest share of power from renewable sources, clean energy production has become an integral part of the overall economy. In fact, solar panel installation is more concentrated in that state than any other profession, making it the most iconic job in the state. These are the most iconic jobs in every state.