Renewables on the Rise

Credits, methodology and sources

Credits

Methodology and sources

Website: Data story
Wind, solar and geothermal electricity
Renewable energy goals
2020 goal (in graphs for years 2001-2020)
Narrative
Website text

Fact sheets
Solar Energy on the Rise
Wind Energy on the Rise
Battery Storage on the Rise
Energy Efficiency on the Rise
Electric Vehicles on the Rise
Renewables on the Rise 2020 (summary fact sheet)

Interactive state charts

 

Credits

Renewables on the Rise 2020 was produced by Tony Dutzik and Jamie Friedman of Frontier Group and Emma Searson of Environment America Research & Policy Center. Web and data story design by Ryan Moeckly of Public Interest GRFX. Susan Rakov, Gideon Weissman, Adrian Pforzheimer and Bryn Huxley-Reicher of Frontier Group, and Johanna Neumann of Environment America Research & Policy Center provided editorial support. The following individuals graciously provided review and insights: John Rogers, Energy Campaign Analytic Lead, Union of Concerned Scientists; Gregory Wetstone, President & Chief Executive Officer, American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE); Rachel Goldstein, Solar & Storage Analyst, Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA); and Nathanael Greene, Senior Renewable Energy Policy Analyst, Natural Resources Defense Council. Environment America Research & Policy Center thanks all those who provided funding to make this project possible.

 

Methodology and sources

Website: Data story 

For years between 2001 and 2020, the data story displays blue squares, representing the amount of electricity generated from wind, solar and geothermal energy in each year, and yellow squares, which represent the sum of mandated state renewable electricity targets for 2020 that were in place in each year. The national total for renewable energy generation includes generation in states with and without renewable electricity goals. However, state renewable energy standards also drive renewable energy growth in other states through the use of renewable electricity credits. State renewable energy goals have been responsible for about 45% of the nation’s growth in non-hydroelectric renewable energy since 2000, according to researchers from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

For years from 2030 through 2050, the blue squares represent renewable electricity generation in 2020, while the yellow squares represent projected wind, solar and geothermal energy for each of those years from the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s Annual Energy Outlook 2020. The Annual Energy Outlook projections reflect both the implementation of state renewable energy targets and increases in renewable energy use driven by other forces, and those projections have historically underestimated growth in renewable energy. 

Wind, solar and geothermal electricity 

The amount of electricity generated from wind, solar and geothermal sources was obtained from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, Electricity Data Browser, Net Generation for All Sectors, Annual, accessed at www.eia.gov/electricity/data/browser/ on 29 July 2020. Percentages of renewable energy were calculated by dividing renewable generation by net generation from all sources in the U.S. 

Renewable energy goals

2020 goal (in graphs for years 2001-2020)

Renewable energy targets for 2020 were estimated for each year based on an estimate of each state’s compliance obligation under the renewable electricity standard (RES, otherwise known as renewables portfolio standard, or RPS) in effect in that state in that year. For the years between 2017 and 2019, this was derived from the Excel table “RPS compliance data,” a supplemental table to: Galen Barbose, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, U.S. Renewables Portfolio Standards: 2019 Annual Status Update, July 2019 and similar supplemental tables to earlier reports in the same series. 

For goals set in years before 2017: The compliance obligation figure (in GWh) for 2017 was assumed to be the goal for every previous year in which the same RES target as in 2017 was in effect (for example, if the 2020 renewable target in effect in both 2016 and 2017 was 20%, the estimated compliance obligation for 2017 was used for 2016 as well). For preceding years when different (usually lower) targets were in effect, the compliance obligation was adjusted by the percentage difference between the old and new targets. For example, if a state increased its RPS target from 10% of electricity sales in 2015 to 20% of electricity sales in 2016, the compliance target for 2015 and previous years was assumed to be half that of the 2016 level. Previous years’ RES targets were obtained from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) report cited above, as well as from the North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center’s Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE) database, available at www.dsireusa.org.

State renewable electricity standards are often complex, with varying goals for different types of energy sources and electricity providers. In general, the percentage renewable energy targets for investor-owned utilities were used to estimate changes in compliance obligations from the LBNL estimates. 

For states that adopted renewable electricity standards dated earlier than 2020, it was assumed that the goal in the last specified year would also apply to 2020. 

State-specific notes:

  • In the case of Kansas, which switched from a mandatory to a voluntary renewable electricity standard, the compliance obligation for 2020 (when the state’s standard was to have reached 20%) was assumed to be twice the level estimated for 2011 (when the standard in effect was 10%), according to “RPS compliance data,” an Excel spreadsheet  supplementary to: Galen Barbose, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, U.S. Renewables Portfolio Standards: 2019 Annual Status Update, July 2019. Voluntary goals are not included in the total, and so Kansas’ goal was removed from the national total when the state changed to a voluntary program.

  • Ohio’s compliance obligation for 2020 was counted in the total, despite Ohio’s permanent freeze on its renewable electricity standard enacted in 2019.

Detailed sources used and assumptions made for each state’s renewable electricity targets will be made available upon request. 

Narrative 

All facts used in the data story narrative are derived from the sources cited above, except for the following:

 

Website text

Clean energy leadership

  • 30-fold growth in annual solar generation: Data analysis using data from U.S. Energy Information Administration, State Energy Data System, All Consumption Estimates in Physical Units (CSV file), downloaded from https://www.eia.gov/state/seds/sep_use/total/csv/use_all_phy.csv, 9 September 2020. 

  • Three-fold growth in annual wind generation: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Electricity Data Browser, Retail Sales of Electricity, Annual, and Net Generation for All Sectors, Annual, accessed at www.eia.gov/electricity/data/browser/ on 29 July 2020.

  • 1,443,900 plug-in electric vehicles: U.S. Department of Transportation, Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Hybrid-Electric, Plug-in Hybrid Electric and Electric Vehicle Sales, accessed at https://www.bts.gov/content/gasoline-hybrid-and-electric-vehicle-sales, 25 September 2020.

  • Capacity increased by 963.3 MW: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Form EIA-860 detailed data with previous form data, files “2016,” “2017,” “2018” and “2019ER” downloaded from: https://www.eia.gov/electricity/data/eia860/, 9 August 2020.

Untapped potential

Moving forward

 

Fact sheets

Solar Energy on the Rise

Data for solar energy consumption by state were downloaded from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, State Energy Data System, All Consumption Estimates in Physical Units (CSV file), downloaded from https://www.eia.gov/state/seds/sep_use/total/csv/use_all_phy.csv, 9 September 2020. Solar electricity consumption is based on values reported for code SOTGP, “solar thermal and photovoltaic electricity total net generation” in units of million kilowatt-hours.

Fact sheet sources:

Solar energy is rapidly expanding across the U.S.

Solar energy has grown 30-fold since 2010

Solar technology is improving and prices are falling

Solar energy has tremendous potential

Powering America with solar energy

Top states for solar energy

 

Wind Energy on the Rise

Data for wind energy generation by state were downloaded from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, Electricity Data Browser, Net Generation for All Sectors, Annual, accessed at www.eia.gov/electricity/data/browser/ on 29 July 2019.

Fact sheet sources:

Wind energy is expanding rapidly across the U.S.

Wind energy has more than tripled since 2010

Offshore wind energy can power the coasts

Wind energy’s tremendous potential

Top states for wind energy

 

Battery Storage on the Rise

Utility-scale battery capacity by state was downloaded from U.S. Energy Information Administration, Form EIA-860 detailed data with previous form data, files “2016,” “2017,” “2018” and “2019ER,” downloaded from https://www.eia.gov/electricity/data/eia860/, 9 August 2020. The datasets were filtered to exclude any technology that wasn’t a utility-scale battery. The capacity of each state was calculated by summing the nameplate capacity by opening year in the 2019 dataset. Then capacity that had been retired and recorded on the 2019, 2018, 2017 or 2016 retirement tabs were added back for the years prior to their retirement. Each state’s capacity was checked against the data sets from 2018, 2017 and 2016 to identify any discrepancies of note (such as a West Virginia battery that began with a capacity of 32 MW and was later reduced to 16 MW), which were then adjusted to most accurately fit the information provided. 

Fact sheet sources:

Utility-scale battery power capacity has grown 20-fold since 2010

California and the PJM regional grid lead the way on energy storage

Battery storage has grown across the country

 

Energy Efficiency on the Rise

This report used the energy efficiency rankings downloaded from Weston Berg et al., American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, The 2019 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard, October 2019, available at: https://www.aceee.org/sites/default/files/publications/researchreports/u1908.pdf and 

Ben Foster et al., American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, The 2012 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard, October 2012, available at: https://www.aceee.org/sites/default/files/publications/researchreports/e12c.pdf. Table 12 of the 

ACEEE Energy Efficiency 2012 Scorecard provided the 2010 net incremental electricity savings by state, as well as the savings as a percentage of annual retail sales for each state. Table 7 of the ACEEE Energy Efficiency 2019 Scorecard provided the 2018 net incremental electricity savings by state, as well as the savings as a percentage of 2017 retail sales for each state. The growth in percent of retail sales from 2010 to 2018 was calculated for each state, and determined the state’s rank for energy efficiency growth. To calculate the average number of homes, the EIA’s 2018 average annual electricity consumption for a U.S. residential utility customer of 10,972 kilowatt hours (kWh) was used. 

Fact sheet sources:

America continues to become more energy efficient

Technological advances reduce energy consumption

Public policy has reduced energy consumption

Most improved states for electricity efficiency

 

Electric Vehicles on the Rise 

Data on electric vehicle sales by state was downloaded from Auto Alliance, Advanced Technology Vehicle Sales Dashboard, accessed at https://autoalliance.org/energy-environment/advanced-technology-vehicle-sales-dashboard/ on 3 September 2020. As of 3 September 2020, when the data was accessed, only sales through June 2019 were available. Their interactive database was filtered to include sales from January 2019 to June 2019 for battery-electric vehicle (BEV) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) sales. The sum of BEV and PHEV sales from each state determined the ranking of the states. The national cumulative and annual sales of electric vehicles data from 2010 to 2019 is sourced from the U.S. Department of Transportation, Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Hybrid-Electric, Plug-in Hybrid Electric and Electric Vehicle Sales, accessed at https://www.bts.gov/content/gasoline-hybrid-and-electric-vehicle-sales, 25 September 2020.

Data on charging stations was downloaded from U.S. Department of Energy, Electric Vehicle Charging Station Locations, accessed at: https://afdc.energy.gov/fuels/electricity_locations.html#/analyze?fuel=ELEC on 25 August 2020. Only public stations filtered for electric fuel, Level 2 charging and DC Fast charging were included. The number of stations in each state determined the ranking of charging stations.

Fact sheet sources:

Nearly 330,000 electric vehicles were sold in 2019

Electric buses take off

More charging stations being installed across the U.S.

Strong public policies can encourage electric vehicles

Top states for electric vehicle sales

  • Top states: Auto Alliance, Advanced Technology Vehicle Sales Dashboard, 3 September 2020.

  • State zero-emission requirements: Auto Alliance, State Electric Vehicle Mandate, 1 September 2020.

 

Renewables on the Rise 2020 (summary fact sheet)

Clean energy is sweeping across America

America has tremendous renewable energy potential

Renewable energy meets a rising share of America’s electricity use

 

Interactive state charts

The sources for the data for the interactive state charts on the Renewables on the Rise 2020 website are the same as those listed for the various types of renewable energy and clean energy technology growth in the “Fact sheets” section above.