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.
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.
While, as a nation, the U.S. has a long way to go to achieve carbon neutrality, at a state level, progress is patchy. In some states, less than 5% of electricity production comes from renewable sources, while in others, fossil fuels have been virtually phased out.
In Minnesota, renewable energy sources account for 24.3% of electricity production. Most renewable energy in Minnesota comes from wind turbines located in the prairies in the southwestern part of the state.
Other primary energy sources in Minnesota include coal and nuclear. The largest power plant in Minnesota is coal-fired, and the second largest is a nuclear power plant — one of the two in the state. Though coal use has been declining in the state, it still accounts for about 30% of electricity production. Nuclear accounts for about 24%.
To determine renewable energy production by state, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data on electricity generation by source in 2019 from the Energy Information Administration. States were ranked based on the electricity generated from renewable sources — which include conventional hydroelectricity, wind, wood and wood-derived fuels, other biomass, geothermal, and solar thermal and photovoltaic — as a percentage of electricity generated from all sources. Data on electricity from non-renewable sources and historical electricity data also came from the EIA. Data on the average sale price of electricity came from the EIA and is for 2019.
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, however, when 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.
|Rank:||State:||Electricity production from renewables:||Largest renewable energy source:||Largest non-renewable energy source:|
|14||New York||28.5%||Hydroelectric||Natural gas|
|40||Rhode Island||6.2%||Biomass||Natural gas|
|47||New Jersey||2.8%||Solar||Natural gas|