Which Us State Has The Most Renewable Energy?

Which US state has the most renewable energy?

Renewable energy has seen rapid growth in the United States over the past decade. Renewable energy comes from natural sources that are constantly replenished, such as sunlight, wind, water, plants, and geothermal heat. The main renewable energy sources used in the US are hydropower, wind, solar, geothermal, and biomass. According to the US Energy Information Administration, renewable energy provided about 12% of total US energy consumption and about 17% of electricity generation in 2019. With concerns about climate change and energy independence growing, there has been a major push to increase renewable energy capacity and production across the country. This article will examine renewable energy usage across the different states and determine which state generates the most renewable energy.

Measuring Renewable Energy Capacity

Renewable energy capacity refers to the maximum rated output of electricity that a generator can produce under specific conditions. It is measured in megawatts (MW) or kilowatts (kW) and indicates the potential output if the generator is run at full capacity (Energy.gov).

Capacity is different than actual generation. Installed capacity refers to the potential output, while generation refers to the amount of electricity actually produced over a period of time, usually measured in megawatt-hours (MWh) or gigawatt-hours (GWh). A generator may not always run at full capacity due to factors like weather conditions, maintenance, or grid demand (Climate Council).

For example, a solar farm may have 100 MW of installed capacity but it will generate varying amounts of electricity depending on how much sunlight it receives. Comparing installed capacity provides an estimate of potential generation, while comparing actual generation shows how much renewable energy is currently being produced.

Hydroelectric Power

Hydroelectric power is one of the major sources of renewable energy in the United States. As of 2019, hydropower accounted for over 6% of total U.S. utility-scale electricity generation and 44% of generation from all renewables. The U.S. has over 2,300 active hydroelectric power plants with over 80,000 megawatts of installed capacity as of 2020, making it one of the largest producers of hydroelectricity in the world.

Washington state has the most hydroelectric power capacity of any U.S. state, with over 21,000 megawatts as of 2019. This is primarily due to large dams located along the Columbia River Basin such as the Grand Coulee Dam, which is the largest hydroelectric power producer in the U.S. with over 6,800 megawatts of capacity (Source). Other leading hydroelectric power producers include Oregon, California, and New York.

Overall, the potential for growth in hydroelectric capacity is somewhat limited compared to other renewables. However, improvements in turbine technology and pumped storage facilities continue to enhance output and flexibility of existing infrastructure.

Wind Power

Texas leads the nation with the most installed wind capacity at over 28 GW, followed by Iowa, Oklahoma, California, and Kansas. As of 2021, Texas generated nearly 30% of the nation’s total wind-powered electricity. The state’s massive wind farms, like the Roscoe Wind Complex and the Horse Hollow Wind Energy Center, provide clean energy to millions of Texans. Other top wind energy producing states include Iowa which generates 42% of its total electricity from wind, and Kansas which has harnessed wind to provide 36% of state generation. Major wind projects in these plains states like the Buffalo Gap Wind Farm in Texas and the Alta Wind Energy Center in California demonstrate the rapid growth of wind power across the interior West and Southwest. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, nearly 9% of the nation’s utility-scale electricity generation comes from wind energy as of 2020.

Source: https://www.chooseenergy.com/data-center/wind-generation-by-state/

Solar Power

California leads the nation in solar power capacity, with 30,813 megawatts (MW) of installed solar photovoltaics (PV) as of 2021, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). This is nearly double the solar capacity of the next highest state, Texas, which has 16,905 MW. Other top states for solar PV capacity include Florida (8,426 MW), New Jersey (7,035 MW), and Massachusetts (5,473 MW) (SEIA).

In terms of solar energy generation, California again leads, with 121.4 terawatt-hours (TWh) in 2021. Other top-producing solar states were Texas (35.3 TWh), Florida (21.7 TWh), North Carolina (19.6 TWh), and Arizona (19.3 TWh). The rapid growth of solar has allowed it to become a significant provider of electricity across many states. For example, solar accounted for 23% of California’s net generation in 2021 and 14% of North Carolina’s net generation (EIA).

The exceptional solar resources in the Southwest and regulatory incentives have driven growth in states like California, Arizona, and Nevada. States in the Southeast like North Carolina, Florida, and South Carolina have also seen huge expansion in recent years thanks to declining solar costs and favorable policies. Even some states not known for sunshine, like New Jersey and Massachusetts, have nurtured sizable solar markets through renewable portfolio standards and other programs.

Geothermal Power

Geothermal energy refers to thermal energy stored beneath the Earth’s surface. This energy can be harnessed to generate electricity in geothermal power plants. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, geothermal power accounted for about 0.4% of total utility-scale electricity generation in the United States in 2021.

The western states have the highest geothermal electricity generation, with California leading at nearly 25% of total U.S. geothermal power generation in 2021. Other top states were Nevada, Utah, and Hawaii. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s (NREL) map shows most geothermal capacity is clustered in the West.

While geothermal accounts for a small percentage of U.S. power generation currently, there is significant potential for growth. The United States has the largest geothermal energy potential of any country in the world. With further development, geothermal power could play a bigger role in the nation’s renewable energy portfolio.

Biomass Power

Biomass power is generated from burning organic matter such as wood, plants, waste, and alcohol fuels. It’s considered a renewable energy source because biomass can regrow over relatively short periods of time compared to fossil fuels.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, biomass accounted for about 5% of total U.S. electricity generation in 2020. The main sources of biomass generation come from burning wood and wood waste, municipal solid waste, and landfill gas collection systems.

The top biomass power producing states in 2020 were California, Maine, New York, Florida, and Michigan. [1] These states have abundant biomass resources from forestry and agricultural industries to utilize for power generation.

Overall, biomass offers a renewable way to generate electricity and reduce dependence on fossil fuels. With proper sustainability practices, it can be part of the solution to transitioning to cleaner energy in the United States.

Total Renewable Energy Generation

When looking at total renewable energy generation across all sources, Oregon leads the way among U.S. states. In 2021, Oregon generated over 61 terawatt hours of renewable electricity, accounting for 68.9% of its total in-state generation. This included over 43 TWh of hydroelectric power, nearly 6 TWh of wind power, and over 11 TWh of other renewables like solar, geothermal and biomass (EIA).

Other top renewable energy producing states include Iowa, Maine, Washington, California, and South Dakota. Iowa generated 73 TWh of renewable electricity in 2021, making up 64.9% of its total generation. The state got over 46 TWh from wind power alone. Maine generated nearly 13 TWh from renewables, over 62% of its total. Washington and California had over 55% and 33% renewable shares respectively. South Dakota produced over 90% of its electricity from renewable sources, predominantly hydro and wind (Wikipedia).

On the other end, fossil fuel-dependent states like West Virginia, Wyoming, Louisiana, and North Dakota generated less than 10% of their electricity from renewable sources. So while some states are leading the transition, others have a long way to go in adopting renewable energy.

Challenges and Opportunities

While renewable energy capacity continues to grow, there are still challenges to further expansion. Intermittency and variability in power generation from sources like wind and solar remain obstacles, as energy storage solutions are still developing. However, battery storage technology is rapidly improving and becoming more affordable (IEA). Other storage solutions like pumped hydro and compressed air can help overcome intermittency.

The upfront capital costs for renewable energy projects can also be prohibitive. But costs continue to decline, and innovative financing models are emerging. Policy support like tax credits and incentives can help drive growth as well. Overall costs and economics will likely become more favorable as technology improves (Sustainable Review).

Existing energy infrastructure poses a challenge, as grid systems were designed for centralized fossil fuel generation. Upgrades and modernization will be needed to handle increasing renewable penetration. But smart grid technology and distributed energy solutions can help overcome grid limitations (Regen Power). Overall, the opportunities appear abundant for renewable energy to supply an ever greater share of America’s electricity.


In summary, Texas leads the United States in total renewable energy production, generating over 30% of the nation’s wind power and housing over half of the country’s wind energy capacity. California follows closely behind, producing the most hydroelectric, solar, and geothermal power. Renewable energy is growing rapidly across the U.S., with solar and wind expanding the fastest. Though fossil fuels still dominate, renewables are projected to continue increasing and make up over 20% of total electricity generation by 2024.

The future looks bright for renewable energy in America. As costs continue to fall and technology improves, sources like solar and wind will keep growing their market share. With supportive policies and private investments at the federal and state levels, the U.S. can continue transitioning to a cleaner energy system and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Realizing the full renewable energy potential across the states will lead to domestic energy security, local job creation, and climate change mitigation.

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