Inside Climate NewsInside Clean Energy: Renewables are up and coal is down in most places, at a time of major changes in how we produce electricity. (extracted)
By Dan Gearino
August 5, 2021
The Energy Information Administration reported last week that, for the first time the US used more renewable energy sources in 2020 than from coal. The report made official what I reported in February based on preliminary data.I’ve spent the week looking beyond the national numbers to focus on how the energy transition is playing out in the states, with help from ICN graphic artist Paul Horn. Texas stands out as the country’s renewable energy leader, when measured by gigawatt-hours of electricity generated.The runner-up is California, which leads in solar power but has little wind power.
And while few would be surprised that Texas and California rank as the top two, after that are some wind energy powerhouses that may not get their due.
Iowa beats everybody except Texas and California. Oklahoma is right behind.
I reached out to Tyler Norris, senior director of development for Cypress Creek Renewables, one of the country’s largest solar developers, to get an idea of what he notices in the figures for the states. He has been crunching the numbers and posting charts online, which helped inspire me to do a similar analysis.
“We’re in the midst of a historic energy transition, and it’s challenging to keep track of power sector trends across 50 different states, which makes it extremely valuable to have the latest, state-level data organized and presented in a way that’s easily digestible,” Norris said. “EIA holds a treasure trove of data, but it’s not always presented in a way that enables analysts and decision-makers to decipher the implications.”
He said the success of renewable energy in Republican-leaning states like Kansas, North Carolina and Oklahoma “is a deeply hopeful precedent” for building a political consensus for supporting renewable energy.
Nationwide, renewable energy sources (including wind, solar, hydroelectric, biomass and geothermal) generated 834,236 gigawatt-hours last year, enough to pass coal and nuclear, which generated 773,805 and 789,919 e ever, the United States generated more electricity from renewable gigawatt-hours, respectively.