I’ve been sitting on this one for a while, but finally have the time to put up something. I feel like I normally share bad climate- and energy-related news: ice sheets are melting faster than expected, temperatures are rising more than expected, new and dire effects are being discovered, Congress is stupidly delaying progress on legislation, etc. There is plenty of good news in the climate and energy arena. People are taking matters into their own hands and actually doing something, and it’s becoming commonplace that they’re doing much more than replacing light bulbs in their house. This is one of those cases – but on a larger scale.
The New Rules Project in Minnesota released a second and updated edition of a report they originally issued in 2008, “Energy Self-Reliant States“. In this expanded edition, each state is assessed for commercial potential, not technical potential, of renewable electricity. The large picture: 64% of states can be self-sufficient in electricity from in-state renewables. An additional 14% can generate 75% of their electricity within their own borders. It argues for a decentralized energy approach, which makes the most sense to me. Why depend on your neighbor for electricity when you don’t have to, whether that neighbor is the state next door or another country. Keying on that decentralized approach, the report notes that 40 states could generate 25% of their electricity just with rooftop photovoltaic (PV) power. Generating energy exactly where it is used is by far the best way to go.
You can go to the website I link to above and download the report to see results for your own state, read more about the methodology, etc. I’m going to concentrate on my own state: Colorado.
Colorado is one of the most advantageous states when it comes to renewable energy potential for electricity. The report classifies Colorado as being able to generate more than 1000% of our electricity from combined renewable resources (solar plus wind plus geothermal, etc. – note this does not include concentrated solar power, another potentially large source), based on 2007 usage, as seen in this figure: