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Here are the Leading Renewable Energy States

American renewable energy generation has tripled over the past decade, and it is set to continue to grow. The United States recently signed on to an international agreement to triple current renewable energy capacity by 2030. Such a commitment is certainly a lofty goal, especially with uneven renewable generation and use across the country. Some states are growing their renewable energy capacity by leaps and bounds while others are falling behind. 

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How exactly do the states stack up when it comes to renewable energy? Industry data from the fourth quarter of 2022 through the third quarter of 2023 (a one-year period) gives us some answers: 

State That Relies On The Most Renewable Energy: Iowa

Not typically thought of as a clean energy leader, Iowa is the largest consumer—in terms of the percentage of overall energy consumption—of renewable power. Throughout the tracked one-year period, more than 60 percent of the Hawkeye State’s energy consumption was generated by renewable sources. And most of that generation was from wind power—Iowa is home to more than 6,000 wind turbines. South Dakota and Kansas came in second and third place in this category relying on renewables for 57% and 47% of their respective energy needs. 

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State That Relies On The Least Renewable Energy: Kentucky

Over the course of the tracked year, only 1 percent of Kentucky’s energy use was generated by renewable sources, and nearly all of that was generated through hydropower. Kentucky is still coal country, and 68 percent of the state’s utility-scale electricity generation came from coal-fired sources in 2022. Natural gas use has also increased in the state and made up 25 percent of Kentucky’s energy generation in 2022. 

State That Produces The Most Renewable Energy: Texas

Everything is bigger in Texas, including its renewable energy generation. From the fourth quarter of 2022 through the third quarter of 2023, Texas’ renewable energy sources generated more than 146 million megawatt hours. No state even came close to that figure, but Iowa came in second place with more than 43 million megawatt hours generated from renewable sources. While wind power dominates Texas’ renewable energy makeup, geothermal is becoming more and more prevalent. Texas has long been an oil and gas state; since geothermal energy can be produced from existing oil and gas wells, many in the energy industry now consider Texas to be a ‘geothermal sleeping giant,’ ripe with potential. 

State That Produces The Least Renewable Energy: Alaska

The northernmost state in the country only produced 136,000 megawatt hours of renewable energy over a year and, similar to Kentucky, this was primarily generated through hydropower. Alaska’s climate and weather patterns surely contributed to this figure. However, the state’s use of natural gas is probably the leading reason why renewable energy production was limited. In 2022, natural gas accounted for 42 percent of Alaska’s net energy generation. 

The growth of renewable energy is a good thing and will play a key part in reducing carbon emissions and fighting climate change. But the data highlights something important: Each state has different energy generation capacities and needs. America needs to embrace an all-of-the-above approach to encourage the growth of clean energy sources while keeping lights on across the country.

Kelvey Vander Hart is a native Iowan, a member of the American Conservation Coalition, and a communications specialist at Reason Foundation.

The views and opinions expressed are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of C3.

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