Graphics shared with permission from Modernize. Click here to see the original article, “America’s Cleanest and Dirtiest Energy States.”
Renewable energy is on the rise in the US. Since 2006, electricity generation from renewables has increased from over 6 quadrillion Btus to 8.7 quadrillion Btus. How big is 8.7 quadrillion, exactly? That’s 8.7 with 14 zeros behind it, or 8,700,000,000,000,000 Btus. In total, renewable energy accounted for 13% of overall electricity generation in 2014.
The story doesn’t end there. Renewable energy is expected to keep growing, in part due to utility scale solar plants that are planned to come online this year and next. After a slight dip in hydropower generation in 2015, the EIA projects renewables to increase again in 2016 – this time to nearly 9 quadrillion Btus.
So, which states are leading the charge? The following maps, provided by Modernize, show the volume of energy each US state has produced from renewables from 1960-2013. Some states, like Washington and California, are leading the charge in total renewable energy production. Others, like Wyoming and New Mexico, are lagging behind. Scroll down to see how your state stacks up!
Methodology note: Modernize defines “clean energy” as the energies considered renewable by the US Energy Information Administration (EIA). These include: hydroelectric power, geothermal, solar, wind, biomass (wood and waste), ethanol and biodiesel. Read more on the EIA website.
Now we know which states lead on total volume of energy produced by renewables. But what about the states that get a high percentage of their energy from renewables, but don’t make the top 10 because their total energy production is too small to compete with states like California? So here’s a look at the states that win when it comes to getting the largest percentage of their power from renewables:
Now, bring your attention to the states that bring up the rear. Many of these states haven’t invested in renewables because they already have access to rich supplies of fossil fuels. Take Wyoming, for example: Wyoming is a major coal producer, having produced 39% of all coal mined in the US in 2013, so it’s no surprise that it got 89% of its electricity from coal in 2014.
But the tides are turning. Even Wyoming is beginning to look to renewables: in 2013, about 10% of Wyoming’s electricity came from renewable sources, primarily from wind.
Whether your state is in the top or bottom 10, there is still a lot we can do as individuals to promote renewable energy locally. From advocating for renewable energy standards at the state level to installing solar on your own rooftop (shameless plug), a renewable energy future is something we all help create.