Within weeks of taking office, President Joe Biden issued a series of executive orders aimed at making the U.S. carbon neutral by 2050. This goal hinges on eliminating greenhouse gas emissions in electricity production — which necessitate a shift away from fossil fuels, like natural gas and coal, toward clean renewable energy sources, like wind and solar.
It is important to note that not all renewable energy sources are carbon neutral, just as not all non-renewable energy sources emit greenhouse gases. 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. Still, some forms of biomass produce far less carbon emissions than fossil fuels.
Currently, only 17.7% of electricity produced in the United States comes from renewable sources. Nationwide, wind turbines generate the most electricity, followed by hydroelectric power plants and solar thermal power. Biomass, such as wood and agricultural waste, as well as geothermal energy, are renewable sources that account for a very small share of the U.S. energy mix.
Meanwhile, greenhouse gas-emitting coal and natural gas-fired power plants account for over half of all U.S. electricity production. Here is a look at the countries increasing carbon emissions the fastest.
While, as a nation, the U.S. has a long way to go to achieve carbon neutrality, at a state level, progress has been inconsistent. In some states, less than 5% of electricity production comes from renewable sources, while in others, fossil fuels have been virtually phased out. Here is a look at America’s most and least environmentally friendly states.
Using data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, 24/7 Wall St. identified the states producing the most renewable energy. States are ranked based on the share of 2019 electricity production from renewable sources.