According to a recent research by Climate Central, the US was able to produce more renewable energy last year than ever before. Surprisingly, red states produce more solar and wind energy than any other state in the union.
National wind and solar power capacity increased by 16% from 2021 to now. In all, renewable energy sources produced enough electricity to supply 64 million American homes. The Biden administration is beginning to make billions of dollars available for renewable energy projects at the time the report is released. The administration has pledged to achieve net zero emissions for the US by the middle of the century and to totally decarbonize the grid by 2030.
Jennifer Brady, a senior data analyst at Climate Central, stated that "we are getting closer to the objectives we need to achieve in order to accomplish net zero." "We can harness the weather, a free natural resource, to produce electricity."
Republican leaders have frequently stalled climate action at the local and federal levels. Yet, the new analysis reveals that while California and Florida were the biggest providers of solar power, the states with the highest levels of wind power output were Iowa and Oklahoma, all of which had Republican governors and state legislatures. Both solar and wind energy are highly regarded in Texas.
It's beneficial to have a nationwide distribution of renewable energy, and it's encouraging to see states expanding their use of them, according to Brady. The expansion of renewable energy capacity in these states demonstrates the efficacy of regional and national incentives.
Wind energy has exploded in Texas for a number of reasons. Future wind farms can readily link to this grid because the state has been aggressive in laying out transmission lines to bring wind power to companies and residences. These investments enable the state to utilize its renewable natural resources.
Regulations in Texas that have deregulated the energy sector have made it easier to lease property for wind farms; only 2% of Texas's land is subject to federal regulation.
Irfan Khan, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at Texas A&M, remarked, "Texas is rich in wind speed and rich in sun. "Although there is a significant upfront investment, the cost of wind is lower once the wind turbines are installed."
Wind energy's proportion increased from 15% to 34% over the previous five years, more than doubling. Gas production has decreased from 49% to 34% in that time.
Eric Larson, a senior research engineer at Princeton University, stated, "Texas is a huge oil and gas producing state, but I think that wind is being recognized as another potential for creating energy that can be an income source."
State and federal subsidies had a significant role in the year-over-year growth in the generation of renewable energy elsewhere. In 2018, California passed a law requiring rooftop solar panels to be installed on the majority of new single-family and multi-family residences up to three floors beginning in 2020. The highest state tax credit rate for wind energy was adopted in Iowa in 2005, at $0.015 per kilowatt-hour (kWh). Also, it is the only state where tax credits are transferable, allowing taxpayers to sell them to other parties who can then use the money to reduce their own Iowa taxes.
According to Climate Central's statistics, the US produced 683,130 GWh (gigawatt-hours) of electricity from solar and wind last year, up from 588,471 GWh in 2021. According to the survey, solar energy production is naturally strongest in the summer, while wind energy production peaks in the spring and fall.
Most experts concur that expanding transmission lines is the most important step to boost the capacity of wind and solar energy.
Because there is more wind energy production than could be connected to the grid, Khan added, "it's crucial to create transmission lines." Transmission lines are needed to transport electricity from wind turbines and solar farms, which are typically constructed in rural locations far from areas with the greatest demand for electricity. "At this time, Texas's system cannot support all the renewable energy that is already produced there, and if we do not have transmission lines to support it, then it is pointless."
In the US, there were more than 8,100 projects vying for permission to connect to the grid, which was already operating at capacity, as of 2021. Wind, solar, and battery storage projects make up more than 90% of the energy projects waiting to be linked to the grid. Although the Inflation Reduction Act provides $2 billion for financing transmission facilities, the backlog of wind and solar projects is postponing the critically required switch to renewable energy sources. Microgrids are being put in place by certain local governments and states to guard against the regional grid disruptions that have been happening more frequently lately because of natural catastrophes and deteriorating infrastructure.
They are more agile since they are smaller than the grid, according to Brady. "A town may build a microgrid that is more of a backup system that can be activated in case of an emergency. But, that might be a speedier method to turn some of these renewables on.