In the United States, fossil fuels continue to dominate power generation. However, switching from coal to natural gas has reduced CO2 emissions and other pollutants. Coal was the primary source of power generation in 18 states in a year, down from 32 in 2001.
Experts caution, however, that switching to natural gas alone will not be enough to reduce emissions and prevent severe global warming from occurring.
According to Severin Borenstein, director of the Energy Institute at the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, “Switching from coal to gas is a wonderful thing to do in the short run, but it’s not… Still, gas is a major source of greenhouse emissions. We can’t fix this problem by running out of gas. Ultimately, we’ll have to switch to carbon-free or very low-carbon energy sources.”
Between 2001 and 2017, we plotted every state’s energy generating mix using data from EEIA. If you want to skip forward, scroll below.
More than half of Alabama’s energy was generated using coal in 2001. Since then, however, some of the state’s older coal facilities have shut down or switched to burning natural gas, which is more cost-effective. By 2017, natural gas has overtaken nuclear as the state’s primary electricity source. A little more than a quarter of the state’s electricity is generated by coal, which placed in third in the rankings.
An estimated one-third of the energy produced in Alabama is exported to neighboring states.
However, since 2001, hydroelectric power has surpassed natural gas as Alaska’s primary electrical source. A voluntary target of 50 percent of power from renewable sources by 2025 has no legal force in the state of Washington.
Power systems expert at the Energy Information Administration Glenn McGrath says Alaska has its own electric grid, which means that “whatever electricity is generated there they’re using”. In terms of isolation, that’s about as bad as it gets.
Diesel generators are used to provide electricity in many of Alaska’s remote villages.
Before 2016, coal was Arizona’s primary source of energy production, but natural gas has now overtaken it. Less than a third of the state’s power was generated by natural gas, nuclear and coal last year.
Coal-fired electricity, however, is likely to continue to fall. Due to competition from cheaper natural gas, Navajo Generating Station, the state’s largest coal-fired power plant, is scheduled to retire in 2019.
In the Southwest, Arizona is a major source of power. By 2025, the state will require utilities to get 15 percent of their power from renewable sources. The state has an abundance of solar potential. People voted down an initiative in November.
Between 2001 and 2017, coal accounted for the majority of Arkansas’ energy production, but its proportion has steadily declined since then. As a result, natural gas now accounts for more than a quarter of the energy produced in the state, up from just 6 percent in 2001.
Electricity production exceeds consumption and is exported to neighboring states.
As of 2001, natural gas has been the number one source of power in the Golden State. Renewable energy sources such as solar, geothermal and hydroelectricity accounted for half of the state’s electricity production last year.
Despite a decline between 2014 and 2015 due to drought, hydroelectric power returned to prominence last year, accounting for the biggest proportion of renewable output in the state. Since 2005, solar power has developed rapidly, thanks in part to governmental initiatives such as a strict renewable energy mandate. It was announced this year that by 2045, 100% of California’s power will come from carbon-free sources of energy.
On average in New York, roughly a quarter of all power was generated from renewable sources.
To create energy, coal and natural gas account for more than half of the state’s electrical production. Wind power, on the other hand, has been on the increase over the past decade. Colorado’s third-largest power source, wind, provided roughly a fifth of the state’s electricity last year.
Colorado has established a target for utilities to sell 30 percent of their power from renewable sources by the year 2020.
Between 2001 and 2017, the great majority of Connecticut’s electricity came from nuclear power and natural gas. During that period, the use of natural gas as a power source has increased dramatically, accounting for nearly half of the state’s energy output last year, up from only 13 percent two decades ago. As a result, Connecticut’s final coal-fired power station, Bridgeport Harbor, will retire in 2021.
In 2017, Connecticut generated five percent of its power from renewable sources. Earlier this year, the state extended its renewable energy requirement, requiring utilities to acquire 40 percent of the electricity they sell to businesses from renewable sources.
Gas replaced coal as Delaware’s major source of power production in 2010, and coal’s proportion has dropped precipitously since that time. In 2008, coal accounted for 70 percent of Delaware’s electricity production, but by 2017 it had dropped to less than 5 percent. During the same period, the share of natural gas in electricity generation more than tripled.
As a result of this transition, the state’s electrical sector’s carbon dioxide emissions have declined during the past decade as well. By 2025, utilities in Delaware will be required to use 25 percent renewable energy.
This means that “between two-thirds and threefourth (or more) of all power sold “.
In 2001, coal accounted for more than a third of Florida’s electricity production, but two years later, natural gas overtook coal as the state’s leading energy source and has continued to grow its proportion of the state’s power mix. More than twice as much as the national average in 2017, natural gas accounted for two-thirds of Florida’s power generation, according to data from 2017.
Because of this, Florida is still dependent on surrounding states to satisfy consumer demand while being second in the nation in terms of electric production.
No renewable energy is required in Florida despite its moniker.
Energy generation from coal in Georgia peaked in the 2000s, but has since fallen due to the rise of natural gas. As a result of the retirement of numerous coal-fired power facilities, coal’s generating share has decreased dramatically in recent years.
The state’s utilities are developing two new nuclear reactors, which are the only new nuclear projects in the country currently under development at the moment.
Biomass and hydroelectricity accounted for around a tenth of Georgia’s electricity output last year. However, the use of solar electricity in the state is rapidly increasing. No renewable energy standards exist in Georgia, although Atlanta is working on a strategy to acquire 100% of its electricity from renewable sources
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To generate power in the last two decades, Hawaii has been largely reliant on foreign oil imports. This plan calls for 100% of California’s energy needs to come from renewable sources by 2045.
Compared to 2001, renewables accounted for a fourth of Hawaii’s electricity production in 2012. Over the past five years, solar output, primarily from tiny rooftop panels, has exploded throughout the state.
In Idaho, hydroelectric electricity has traditionally dominated the state’s power mix. Although its proportion has declined in recent years, partially due to drought. Wind accounted for 15 percent of the state’s electrical output last year, up from less than 2 percent a decade earlier. Though it is still a tiny percentage, solar power grew dramatically between 2016 and 2017.
The state of Idaho relies significantly on power imports from other states to satisfy its needs. “About one-third of the energy consumed in Idaho comes from coal-fired power plants in other states,” according to the E.I.A. (Import data is available on the E.I.A.’s website).