Minneapolis, Minn. (September 10, 2020) — A new report from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance answers an essential question about our nation’s power supply: If each U.S. state took full advantage of its own renewable energy resources, would it be sufficient to satisfy that state’s electricity consumption? The answer, in almost every state, is a resounding yes. Forty-seven of the nation’s 50 states have the opportunity to meet all of their electricity needs relying solely on renewable energy produced in-state.
What’s more, advances in technology have allowed 47 states to dramatically increase their overall renewable generation potential, with a median increase of 439% over the past decade. This means that not only can most states meet all of their current electricity needs with in-state, renewable resources, most could achieve it several times over.
Called “Energy Self-Reliant States,” this is the 3rd edition of the first ever state-by-state atlas of in-state renewable energy potential. In 2010, only 32 states met the standard.
The report cites several factors driving the trend toward in-state renewable energy across the U.S.:
- Improved technologies in the renewable energy sector. Thanks to better technology, states are able to take advantage of better renewable energy resources than they had access to a decade ago.
- Reduced costs of renewable electricity sources like wind and solar. The 20-year average cost of solar electricity has declined from around $0.200 per kilowatt-hour for small scale projects to $0.091 per kilowatt-hour. Wind energy costs have declined by significant margins, as well, from around $0.13 to $0.04 per kilowatt-hour.
- Increased commitments to renewables at the city and state level. Several states and over 100 U.S. cities have made truly ambitious commitments to 100 percent renewable power.
While policymakers often cite energy independence as a goal, too often that policy objective is over-reliant on fossil fuels, which harm the planet and human health in numerous ways — especially people in historically marginalized communities. By displacing fossil fuel-fired plants and infrastructure with renewable power, local communities can reduce these dangers both for people and the planet.
The benefits of having a nation of renewable-powered states don’t stop there:
- Clean energy is not only affordable, it is a big contributor to the U.S. economy. At the start of 2020, the clean energy industry employed 3.3 million people – that’s 40 percent of America’s energy workforce.
- The clean energy sector is strong and growing stronger. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that solar installers and wind technicians will be the fastest growing occupations in the next decade.
- Renewable energy makes our communities more resilient. Extreme weather events, driven by climate change, have catastrophic impacts on fossil fuel infrastructure and centralized power grids. Renewable energy technologies are more conducive to a distributed system, including rooftop solar paired with batteries, that can help communities bounce back faster.
The report includes a series of maps depicting the potential energy production from a wide range of renewable energy sources, from offshore wind to rooftop solar to geothermal. The aggregate map (page 10) combines all renewable sources to determine that only three states—Florida, West Virginia, and Alabama—currently lack the capability to meet their energy demands through in-state renewables.
View the full report here: https://ilsr.org/report-energy-self-reliant-states-2020/
About the Institute for Local Self-Reliance
The Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) is a national nonprofit research and educational organization found-ed in 1974. ILSR has a vision of thriving, diverse, equitable communities. To reach this vision, we build local power to fight corporate control. We believe that democracy can only thrive when economic and political power is widely dispersed. Whether it’s fighting back against the outsize power of monopolies like Amazon or advocating to keep local renewable energy in the community that produced it, ILSR advocates for solutions that harness the power of citizens and communities. More at www.ilsr.org