What Are The Top 3 Sources Of Electric Power In Maryland?

Maryland relies on a diverse mix of energy sources for electricity generation. In 2018, the state generated over 60 million MWh of electricity from natural gas, nuclear, coal, and renewable sources such as hydroelectric, solar, and wind power. The top three sources accounted for over 80% of Maryland’s electricity generation. This article provides an overview of the main sources of electric power in Maryland as of 2018, examining the contribution of natural gas, nuclear, coal and other renewables to the state’s energy portfolio.

#1 – Natural Gas

According to the dataset from the Maryland Department of the Environment, natural gas accounts for approximately 43% of electricity generation in Maryland as of 2022. This makes it the dominant source for power generation in the state [1]. The share of natural gas has grown substantially over the past couple of decades. In 2000, natural gas accounted for just 15% of electricity generation in Maryland

natural gas is the top source of electric power in maryland

There are several reasons natural gas has become such a major player in Maryland’s electricity mix. First, hydraulic fracturing and directional drilling unlocked huge new supplies of natural gas in the US. This led to much lower natural gas prices compared to coal and oil. Power plants could switch to this newly abundant and affordable fuel.

Second, natural gas power plants are flexible and efficient. They can ramp electricity production up and down to follow shifts in demand throughout the day. This works well with intermittent renewables like wind and solar. Natural gas plants help balance the grid when the sun isn’t shining or wind isn’t blowing.

However, there are concerns about the climate impact of natural gas. When burned, natural gas emits approximately 50% less CO2 than coal. But methane leaks during production and transportation can undermine some of those emission advantages. As Maryland works to deeply decarbonize its grid, the long-term role of natural gas remains uncertain.

[1] https://mde.maryland.gov/programs/air/ClimateChange/2031%20GHG%20REDUCTION%20PLAN%20STAKEHOLDER%20LETTERS/Palamedes%20Strategies%20Comments.pdf

#2 – Nuclear

Nuclear power plants generate around 30% of Maryland’s electricity, making it the second largest source of power in the state. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, Maryland ranked 5th among U.S. states for its share of electricity generated from nuclear power in 2019.

There are currently two nuclear power plants operating in Maryland:

  • Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant – This two-unit plant accounts for most of the state’s nuclear generation, with a net capacity of 1,705 megawatts.
  • Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station – This plant located near the Maryland-Pennsylvania border has two units with a combined net capacity of 2,374 megawatts. However, only a portion of its output serves Maryland.

While no new nuclear reactors have come online in Maryland recently, existing plants have uprated their capacity through turbine upgrades and other improvements. Overall, nuclear power supplies around 30% of Maryland’s net electricity generation as of 2019.

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration

#3 – Coal

Coal is the third-largest source of electricity generation in Maryland. In 2020, coal accounted for about 24% of Maryland’s net electricity generation, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

The share of electricity generated from coal in Maryland has declined in recent years as coal plants have retired. In 2008, coal accounted for 54% of Maryland’s electricity generation. By 2020, that share had fallen to 24% as coal plants like Brandon Shores, Wagner, and Dickerson have shut down.

Currently there are 5 active coal power plants left in Maryland with a total capacity of around 2.8 GW, according to Statista [1]. In comparison, in 2008 there were 13 coal plants in the state producing over 5 GW.

One reason for the decline in coal generation is increased competition from cheaper and cleaner natural gas and renewables. Coal power also faces environmental regulations and pollution control costs. Continued coal plant retirements in Maryland are expected in the coming years.


Renewable energy sources like wind power, solar power, and hydroelectric power are playing an increasingly important role in Maryland’s energy mix. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, renewable energy accounted for about 11% of Maryland’s net electricity generation in 2021.

Some of the major renewable energy sources in Maryland include:

  • Hydroelectric power – Maryland has 19 hydroelectric power plants, mostly located along the Susquehanna River, that can generate up to 596 megawatts of electricity.
  • Solar power – As of 2021, Maryland had over 2,900 megawatts of installed solar electric capacity, mostly from residential and commercial rooftop solar installations.
  • Wind power – Maryland currently has 191 megawatts of wind power capacity from utility-scale wind farms.

To increase the share of renewables, Maryland has implemented a Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard that requires 50% of the state’s electricity supply to come from renewable sources by 2030. Initiatives like this are helping drive growth in wind, solar, and other renewable energy in the state.


Hydroelectric power has played a small role in Maryland’s electricity generation mix. Only a handful of hydroelectric facilities operate in the state, producing around 5% of Maryland’s total net electricity generation. While Maryland has rivers that could potentially support more hydroelectric development, the state lacks elevation changes required for large-scale hydropower dams. Existing hydroelectric facilities mainly utilize small “run-of-river” projects that harness the energy from rivers to turn turbines without the need for dams or reservoirs. These small-scale projects have a light footprint on surrounding ecosystems. With limited potential for growth, hydroelectricity is unlikely to become a major electricity source for Maryland anytime soon.


Solar power has seen tremendous growth in Maryland over the past decade. According to the Maryland Energy Administration, Maryland has increased solar generation from less than 1 megawatt in 2007 to over 582 megawatts as of Q1 2018. Much of the growth has been driven by incentives and renewable energy policies in the state.

Maryland has set a goal to source 2.5% of its electricity from in-state solar generation by 2022 (Source). The state offers grants, loans, and tax credits to residents and businesses installing solar panels. The Residential Clean Energy Grant Program provides grants for solar panel installation. Maryland also has a Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard that requires electricity suppliers to source a minimum portion of retail electricity sales from renewable sources like solar (Source).

According to industry association SEIA, Maryland currently ranks 15th nationally in solar installed capacity. There is still ample room for further growth, with SEIA estimating Maryland has the technical potential for over 5,500 MW of solar generation capacity (Source). With supportive policies and declining solar costs, solar energy will likely continue its rapid growth in Maryland.


Maryland has significant potential for offshore wind energy. The state approved two offshore wind projects in 2017 that will result in over 800 megawatts of offshore wind capacity. These projects, US Wind’s 248 MW project off the coast of Ocean City and Skipjack’s 120 MW project off the coast of Delaware, are expected to be operational by 2023. Maryland has since approved two additional offshore wind projects, bringing the state’s total approved offshore wind capacity to over 2,000 MW (https://energy.maryland.gov/Pages/Info/renewable/offshorewind.aspx).

The approved wind projects are estimated to generate enough electricity to power over 750,000 homes. Tapping into offshore wind resources will help Maryland meet its goal of generating 50% of its energy from renewable sources by 2030 (https://www.boem.gov/renewable-energy/state-activities/maryland-offshore-wind). The offshore wind industry is also expected to create over 7,000 jobs in Maryland as projects progress from development to construction to operation phases (https://offshorewindmaryland.org/).


In the last decade, Maryland has seen some shifts in its energy generation mix, according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The state has been moving away from coal and increasingly relying on natural gas and renewable sources like wind and solar.

In 2011, coal accounted for 46% of Maryland’s net electricity generation. By 2021, coal had fallen to just 7% of total generation. Meanwhile, natural gas jumped from 31% in 2011 to 43% in 2021. Renewable energy sources, led by wind and solar, also grew from just 3% in 2011 to 13% by 2021.

Nuclear power from the Calvert Cliffs plant has remained relatively stable over the past decade, generating between 35-40% of Maryland’s electricity each year. So while coal reliance has dropped dramatically, natural gas, wind, solar and other renewables have risen to fill the gap.

This shift away from coal and growth in natural gas and renewables mirrors broader U.S. trends as the costs of wind, solar and natural gas have become more competitive compared to coal generation. Maryland’s Renewable Portfolio Standard law, requiring utilities to use renewables for a growing percentage of sales, has also driven growth in sources like wind and solar.


In summary, the top 3 sources of electric power generation in Maryland are natural gas, nuclear, and coal. These traditional sources make up the bulk of Maryland’s energy portfolio, providing reliable base load power to meet the state’s electricity demands.

However, Maryland has been diversifying its energy mix by increasing renewable sources like hydro, solar, and wind power. While renewables currently comprise a small percentage of Maryland’s overall generation, they are projected to grow in the coming years as the state works to meet renewable portfolio standards and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Looking ahead, the future energy landscape in Maryland will likely see a decline in coal as it is replaced by cleaner natural gas and zero-emission sources like nuclear, solar, and wind. Energy efficiency and demand management will also play key roles in meeting electricity needs while minimizing environmental impacts. Overall, Maryland is transitioning to a more diverse, modern power supply built on both conventional and renewable generation.

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