By Adam Benalayat, Powered by Facts Intern
Sixty-one percent of all new electricity-generating capacity in the United States in 2016 was in wind and solar power combined, according to industry watchdog Clean Edge in its annual US Clean Tech Leadership Index. That represents almost 17 GW of new capacity and is another sign that America is transitioning away from fossil fuels. Here is how the shift is changing the generation mix at the state level, according to the report:
- 17 states now get 10% or more of their electricity from wind, solar, and/or geothermal, which is up from 14 states in the 2015 Index and up more than five-fold since 2010;
- Iowa, South Dakota, and Kansas now generate 30% or more of their power from utility-scale wind, solar, and/or geothermal. Oklahoma, California, and North Dakota exceed 20 percent;
- The commercial and industrial market is now one of the largest procurers of renewables, with more than 7.5 GW of contracted wind and solar power.
Where does Virginia Stand? The Commonwealth has quietly excelled in energy storage, according to the index; but we still lag in our overall rankings. Virginia landed at 27th overall after Clean Edge analyzed 80 indicators in three top areas of comparison: Technology, Policy and Capital. Here is the breakdown for the Commonwealth:
- 19th in Technology: based upon a state’s progress in a myriad of indicators, including renewable energy generation, energy storage, use of electric vehicles, hybrids, utility-scale wind electricity generation, solar electricity generation, carbon dioxide emissions and electric productivity (measured as dollars per KWH).
- 34th in Policy: based upon the number and efficiency of clean-energy policies passed by each state’s legislature. Policies are separated into regulations and incentives, and weighted to reflect the state’s market conditions.
- 23rd in Capital: broken down into Financial Capital, which includes venture capital investment per capita, utility energy efficiency program spending per capita, etc.; and Human & Intellectual Capital, which encompasses clean energy patents per 1M people, clean tech jobs as & of total employment and other factors.
Virginia is making progress, however. In 2017 alone, 11 bills supporting renewable energy passed in the General Assembly. Other steps that will help Virginia climb these lists include a Department of Energy grant to create more clean energy jobs in Virginia and to further the further the growth of private sector clean energy investments.
Governor Terry McAuliffe’s embrace of clean energy jobs will allow Virginia to benefit from one of the fastest-growing job markets in the United States – the clean energy sector has seen its revenue increase to over $2 billion in the last three years. The more time and effort that is spent on this sector, the more the Commonwealth is securing itself a safe and stable economic future.