Red states lead U.S. in wind and solar power production, study finds

Despite climate action often being frustrated by Republican leaders in Congress and at the local level, states with Republican governors and a majority of Republican state legislators are leading the nation in solar and wind.

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SOURCEEcoWatch

Renewable energy capacity in the U.S. rose last year, with solar and wind up 16 percent from 2021. According to a new report by Climate Central, wind production was led by Texas, Iowa, Oklahoma and Kansas — all Republican states — while California, Texas, Florida and North Carolina generated the most solar power.

Altogether, 64 million households in America were powered by electricity from renewable sources in 2022, reported The Guardian.

President Joe Biden’s administration has a goal of total decarbonization of the country’s power grid by 2030, as well as achieving net zero carbon dioxide emissions by 2050.

“We are moving closer to the goals we need to reach in order to hit net zero,” said senior data analyst at Climate Central Jennifer Brady, as The Guardian reported. “We have a free natural resource in the form of weather that can be captured to generate power.”

Billions of dollars for renewable energy projects have been made available by the Biden administration as a part of last year’s Inflation Reduction Act.

Despite climate action often being frustrated by Republican leaders in Congress and at the local level, states with Republican governors and a majority of Republican state legislators are leading the nation in solar and wind, which means federal and state incentives seem to be working.

Overall, the state that generated the largest portion of its total electricity output from renewable sources in 2021 was South Dakota, according to Yale Climate Connections. Thanks primarily to its use of wind energy, 83 percent of the state’s electricity came from renewables.

In Texas, wind power transmission lines have been built so that residences, businesses and wind farms in the future can connect to the grid. A small portion of the land in the state — just two percent — is regulated by the federal government, which makes it easier to lease land for wind turbines.

Wind energy in Texas has more than doubled in the past five years, from 15 to 34 percent, while gas production has gone down from 49 to 34 percent.

“Texas is rich in wind speed and rich in sun,” said assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at Texas A&M Irfan Khan, as reported by The Guardian. “While there is a lot of initial investment, after the wind turbines are erected, the cost of wind is cheaper.”

Senior research engineer at Princeton University Eric Larson said that, while Texas is an oil and gas producing giant, wind is being seen as another potential source of revenue.

The state that produces the most renewable energy is Texas, but it also gets an enormous amount of its electricity from fossil fuels, Yale Climate Connections reported. Renewables make up a little more than a quarter of the total electricity output in the state, while natural gas provided 44 percent of its electricity in 2021.

Solar and wind generation in the U.S. last year was 683,130 gigawatt hours (GWh), up from 588,471 GWh the previous year, reported The Guardian.

Increasing the number of transmission lines to bring power from rural solar and wind farms to cities is the key to ramping up solar and wind capacity, experts say.

More than 90 percent of the 8,100 energy projects waiting on approval to be connected to the grid as of the end of 2020 were for solar, wind and battery storage.

“Currently the grid cannot handle all the renewable energy that already exists in Texas, and if we do not have transmission lines to support the renewable energy that feeds to the grid then it’s useless,” Khan said, as The Guardian reported.

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