The U.S. Energy Information Administration recently published a special short profile on New York’s renewable energy leadership and split. What I found particularly interesting in the piece, though, was the variation in renewable energy splits in the different top states.
Whereas hydropower is the dominant source of renewable electricity in New York, Oregon, and Washington, wind power is absolutely dominant in Texas, and California has a notable split between solar power, hydropower, wind power, geothermal power, and even electricity from biomass.
Further down the ladder, Oklahoma, Iowa, Kansas, and Illinois all have renewable energy industries that are dominated by wind power.
And then North Carolina demonstrates something more akin to California’s balanced split again — with a big chunk from solar and another chunk from hydropower.
With wind and solar power both so cheap now, a more balanced renewable energy split should develop in more and more states. There’s an enormous amount of solar potential in every state in the country, and solar could quickly climb to levels seen in North Carolina, in California, and beyond. In fact, Texas is headed in that direction at the moment.
As we’ve been covering for more than a decade, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) also emphasizes the long-term shift toward renewables in this country, and links it to New York’s own shift. “In the United States, the sources of electricity generation have been shifting from coal to natural gas and renewables since the mid-2000s. Changes in New York’s electricity generating mix have contributed to this trend. Coal’s share of New York’s electricity generation fell from 14% in 2005 to less than 1% in 2019, and natural gas-fired electricity grew from 22% to 36%.
“Electricity generation from renewable energy technologies collectively grew from 19% to 29% in the same period. New York adopted a renewable portfolio standard in 2004 and the Clean Energy Standard (CES) in 2015. The CES currently requires New York to generate 100% carbon-free electricity by 2040 and attain economy-wide net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.”
Similar trends have been seen in California, Texas, Iowa, and beyond. However, with the long cost-dropping trends for renewables hitting more and more disruptive points, the coming decade should see an even faster transition to renewables. Imagine solar power bars in other states like you see for California in the chart above, and growing wind power bars.
As I wrote a few months ago, solar PV panels were 12× more expensive in 2010 than they are now, and were 459× more expensive in 1977. More recently, the International Energy Agency (IEA) reported that solar power now offers the cheapest electricity in history.
Additionally, leading analyst Lazard has shown that the cost of electricity from new solar and wind power plants should now be competitive with electricity from existing natural gas, coal, and nuclear power plants. The revolution is rising.
While the growth of electricity generation from renewables may have been strong but gradual in recent years, it seems that we should now be on the cusp of strong and, well, quicker growth — especially in leading states.